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Scenes from Covid-19 vaccine ads from around the world (Image: Tina Tiller)
Scenes from Covid-19 vaccine ads from around the world (Image: Tina Tiller)

MediaMay 5, 2021

How NZ’s new Covid-19 vaccine ad compares with the rest of the world

Scenes from Covid-19 vaccine ads from around the world (Image: Tina Tiller)
Scenes from Covid-19 vaccine ads from around the world (Image: Tina Tiller)

New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine campaign has gone up a notch with the release of the first high-budget television ad. But how are other countries urging their citizens to get the jab? Stewart Sowman-Lund takes a look.

Pamphlets are in letterboxes, conspiracy theorists are outraged and, now, there’s a television ad. Yep, the Covid-19 vaccine drive is in full swing. 

It’s going to take until at least June for the majority of us to start getting the Pfizer jab but that hasn’t stopped the Ministry of Health from promoting it in any way it can. 

Released on Sunday, the Ministry of Health’s new ad is so perfectly “New Zealand” it had me wondering what campaign ads from around the world look like. After a quick search through YouTube, I discovered each of them is… exactly as you’d expect. The UK’s is funny and self-deprecating, America’s is emotional and patriotic, Singapore’s is energetic and colourful. 

Let’s take a look at five vaccine campaign ads from here and afar.

New Zealand

Starting with our own. 

Titled “Ka Kite, Covid”, the Ministry of Health’s minute-long vaccine promo is a diverse and colourful call to action. After more than a year of seeing Ashley Bloomfield and Jacinda Ardern step up to the podium to give advice about Covid-19, it’s interesting there’s not a single politician or celeb in sight. No Lorde, Taika, Richie – no one.

Instead, we’re treated to smiling, everyday New Zealanders. It’s actually quite refreshing.

The ad encourages everyone to walk through the metaphorical doors of freedom (a Covid vaccination centre) and help bring our country back to the pre-Covid glory days. It’ll probably struggle to convince the naysayers to get the vaccine but hopefully remind everyone else that help is on the way.

Energy: High.

Absence of Ashley Bloomfield: High.

Vaccine encouragement: Yes!


Possibly the strongest competitor to our own ad for entertainment value, Singapore’s Covid-19 vaccine ad goes full-on disco. And I am obsessed. 

Featuring the fictional character of Phua Chu Kang, who comedian Gurmit Singh made famous in a popular Singaporean sitcom, the high-energy advert is a full-on music video extravaganza. If you don’t want a vaccine straight after watching all two candy-coloured minutes of this ad, nothing will ever win you over.

At the very least, you’ll never get this tune out of your head. As Phua Chu Kang says: “The vaccine is not anyhow whack… Get your shot. Steady pom pi pi.” 

Catchy tune: Yes.

Energy: Impossible to beat.

Vaccine encouragement: Steady pom pi pi!

The United Kingdom

The UK’s ad is about as UK as you can get. A who’s who of celebs have piled into this ad, with the likes of Elton John, Liz Hurley and Lenny Henry stepping in front of the camera to encourage people to get the jab. 

Part of a series of ads produced for the National Health Service, it’s part Red Nose Day sketch, part public service announcement. Self-deprecating, funny and informative – it’s everything I would have expected. 

I guess the question is: do people listen to what celebrities have to say? Considering more than 34 million people in the UK have got at least one dose of the vaccine, quite possibly.

Star power: 100%

Presence of Elton John: Yes.

Vaccine encouragement: I would do anything Sir Elton tells me.

The United States 

If there was a formula for putting together a successful American Covid-19 vaccine ad, surely it would be ex-presidents-that-aren’t-Trump + emotional music + footage of vaccines being given out. And that’s exactly what we’ve been given. 

It looks a little bit like it was made on Windows Movie Maker, but there is so much patriotism in this one video that you won’t even care. Plus, can anyone resist photos of smiling old people? Not me!

Lack of Trump: Yes.

Smiling elderly folk: Hell yes (notably 96-year-old former president Jimmy Carter).

Vaccine encouragement: Yes.


Australia’s vaccine promotion takes a much more serious tone than the likes of Singapore and New Zealand’s, featuring experts rather than the star power the UK and US have drawn on.

The federal government announced a $24 million ad campaign in January, but so far there’s just been a series of quaint, informative animations, plus an ad featuring government advisers explaining the ins and outs of the vaccine roll-out. “This is a lot of taxpayer money and I have seen very little for it,” said one commentator.

Information: High.

Entertainment: Low.

Vaccine encouragement: Remains to be seen.

Keep going!