Willie Nelson, Thirteen Major Sports Leagues and Organizations Team Up With the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s National ‘It’s Up To You’ COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative

As an extension of their COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, “It’s Up To You,” the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative today announced the launch of a new campaign in partnership with thirteen leading sports leagues and organizations: American Horse Council, Athletes Unlimited, Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), PGA TOUR, US Open Tennis Championships, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and WWE. Highlighting iconic moments in sport and a brand-new recording of “I’ll Be Seeing You” performed by Grammy Award-winning musician, Willie Nelson, the videos encourage fans to visit GetVaccineAnswers.org for the latest information about the COVID-19 vaccines.


“In the song, I sing ‘I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places,’ and that’s exactly what I hope these PSAs will help do: help get Americans informed about the vaccines and one step closer to the people and moments we miss,” said Grammy-winning musician Willie Nelson. “I’m happy to be part of this new campaign with the Ad Council, COVID Collaborative and these sports organizations to empower millions more to get the answers they need and feel confident in getting vaccinated, like I did.”


“Sports and sports moments hold a special place in the hearts of millions of people across our country and, regardless of who you’re rooting for, we’re all looking forward to getting back to the arenas, stadiums and moments we miss,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “We’re grateful for the extraordinary collaboration and commitment from all of our partner leagues and organizations and Willie Nelson for lending his voice to these powerful PSAs. We know this work will inspire Americans and encourage them to get the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccines.”


“The American Horse Council, the voice of the horse industry in Washington DC, wants to encourage all horse enthusiasts, and our fellow sports enthusiasts, to get vaccinated as soon as possible so we can return safely to venues and enjoy competitive events. Vaccines will play an important role in bringing this pandemic under control and returning to some sense of normality,” said Julie Broadway, President American Horse Council.


VIDEO: https://youtu.be/tUZziJSaKhQ


Willie Nelson, who received his COVID-19 vaccination earlier this year, recorded a brand-new rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You” pro bono specifically to be featured within the new PSAs. Developed pro bono by creative agency, Pereira O’Dell, in collaboration with the thirteen leagues and organizations, the spots remind fans about the joy and exhilaration of experiencing sporting events together in person and end with the hopeful message that now that the vaccines are here, we can hopefully get back to those moments we love soon. Within the spots are some of the most iconic moments in recent sports history, including Jordan Spieth’s celebration after winning the 2017 Travelers Championship, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff’s emotional hug after the US Open, Pete Alonso hitting a home run, the WWE crowd chanting for Finn Balor, as well as more intimate moments of fan and player excitement and interaction, driving audiences to GetVaccineAnswers.org for answers to top questions consumers have about the COVID-19 vaccines.


“This is the same song we used on our previous spot, but done with a completely different vibe, just for this story we are telling. That allows the leagues and organizations to have their own voice in this battle against the pandemic at the same time they are part of a larger movement. The goal is to have other partners take this song and this idea and make it theirs too,” said PJ Pereira, Creative Chairman, Pereira O’Dell.


According to Ad Council research fielded by Ipsos in February, approximately 40% of the American public remain undecided about getting a COVID-19 vaccination. Of that undecided population, only 56% say they feel confident they have enough information to guide their decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccination, compared to 96% of those already committed. A majority (over 80%) are eager to get back to the moments and people they miss, including sporting events. And new data from Bully Pulpit Interactive shows that 28% of hesitant Americans say they are inspired and more likely to get vaccinated when prompted to get back to sporting events. These insights underline the urgency for continued mass communication efforts that provide audiences with answers to the top questions people have about the COVID-19 vaccines.


“Sports bring us together as a people. Having this extraordinary collection of sports leagues and organizations, together with the voice of Willie Nelson, on our team will help us educate more Americans about the COVID-19 vaccines, get the information they desperately need to make their choice to get a vaccine, and move us closer to enjoying our favorite sporting events in person,” said John Bridgeland, Co-Founder & CEO of the COVID Collaborative.


Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs will run in time and space donated by the media across TV and digital media platforms beginning this week. Partners supporting the PSAs include Bank of America, which is donating over $1.7 million in ad inventory to help the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative reach sports fans with the “It’s Up To You” PSAs. Additional major media partners, including Facebook, NBCUniversal, among others have committed to providing significant donated media space to run and amplify the PSA assets.


The launch of this content follows the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s recent launch of the “It’s Up To You” initiative, which includes creative assets developed by Pereira O’Dell, JOY Collective, iHeartMedia, Group SJR, Values Partnerships and other partners to ensure the American public has the latest and most accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines. In addition to an extensive ground game to put information in the hands of trusted, local messengers, the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative are mobilizing powerful intermediaries, including iconic artists and sports leagues and organization to reach millions of Americans with information our surveys show they want now to inform their decisions to get a vaccine.


Leading contributors to date include Amazon, Apple, Bank of America, Cisco, CVS Health, Facebook, General Motors, Google and YouTube, the Humana Foundation, NBCUniversal/Comcast, Salesforce, Verizon, Walgreens and Walmart. Significant contributions have also been provided by Adobe, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the American Heart Association, the American Medical Association, BNY Mellon, Business Roundtable, Citi, Ford Motor Company, Honeywell, JPMorgan Chase, the New York Life Foundation, Stanley Black & Decker, Synchrony, Target, Unilever, Wells Fargo and ViacomCBS.


Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, the Ad Council has mobilized the industry to launch an unprecedented, multi-pronged communications effort to combat COVID-19. To date, the Ad Council’s COVID-19 response efforts have resulted in 44 billion impressions, $456 million in donated media value, and over 33 million visits to Coronavirus.gov.



The Ad Council

The Ad Council has a long history of creating life-saving public service communications in times of national crisis, starting in the organization’s earliest days during World War II to September 11th and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy. Its deep relationships with media outlets, the creative community, issue experts and government leaders make the organization uniquely poised to quickly distribute life-saving information to millions of Americans.


The Ad Council is where creativity and causes converge. The non-profit organization brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media, technology and marketing to address many of the nation’s most important causes. The Ad Council has created many of the most iconic campaigns in advertising history. Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Smokey Bear. Love Has No Labels.


The Ad Council’s innovative social good campaigns raise awareness, inspire action and save lives. To learn more, visit AdCouncil.org, follow the Ad Council’s communities on Facebook and Twitter and view the creative on YouTube.


COVID Collaborative

COVID Collaborative is a national assembly of experts, leaders and institutions in health, education and the economy and associations representing the diversity of the country to turn the tide on the pandemic by supporting federal, state and local COVID-19 response efforts.


The COVID Collaborative is co-chaired by former Governor and U.S. Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) and former Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) and led by CEO John Bridgeland and President Gary Edson. COVID Collaborative includes expertise from across Republican and Democratic administrations at the federal, state and local levels, including former FDA commissioners, CDC directors, and U.S. surgeon generals; former U.S. secretaries of Education, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services; leading public health experts and institutions that span the country; the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the NAACP, UnidosUS and the National Congress of American Indians; the Skoll Foundation, The Allstate Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation; and associations representing those on the front lines, from the American Public Health Association and Association of State and Territorial Health Officials to the Council of Chief State School Officers and the Council of the Great City Schools.


To learn more, visit www.CovidCollaborative.us, and follow the COVID Collaborative on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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