Maine DHHS + CDC


Creative Services
Media Planning and Buying
Social Media
Website Development


Sarah Price
Tim Blackstone
Cory Schnaible
Glenn Rudberg
Maureen Hanley
Larry Needle
Hannah Richards
Nicole Sacco
Linda Sutch
Josh Emerson
Amy Steenstra
Traci Marquis

As Behavior Change experts, we’re all about making a difference and moving the needle. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Maine Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) asked Ethos for help with several public health outreach campaigns. Ethos pulled together 3 behavior change campaigns to keep Mainers safe.

6 personas. 6 unique strategies

Guided by persona research published by NORC at the University of Chicago, the Ethos strategy team identified 6 personas—each of which had distinct barriers and potential motivators that would require unique and targeted messages and timing.

Phase 1 of the campaign was straightforward enough. Called Keep It Maine, it encouraged Mainers to wear masks, physically distance, wash hands, and avoid indoor gatherings. Once vaccines became available, Phase 2 encouraging all adults to get vaccinated began.

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How to speak to watchful parents

The next phase required something different. Phase 3 focused on getting 12- to 19-year-olds vaccinated, which meant reaching wary parents. 

Maine parents were concerned about the dangers of the virus and the negative impact of the pandemic on the mental health of their children—but they were also concerned about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. 

Ethos realized that parents were doing a risk-benefit calculation and asking a lot of questions in the decision-making process. Many parents were confused, overwhelmed, and concerned about being judged.  All were motivated by a strong desire to do right by their kids and to protect them. 

Mainers have a strong independent streak and don’t want to be told what to do.  However, regardless of demographic differences, Maine parents have a strong relationship with their child’s pediatrician. 

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You could trust them then. And you can trust them now.

Using TV, radio, banner and social media ads, Ethos created a campaign that built upon Maine parents’ strong emotional connection to pediatricians and encouraged parents to call and get the facts. The strategic message: You could trust them then. And you can trust them now. 


As often happens in a behavior change campaign, phase 4 required something different yet again. Focus group research suggested that the younger the child, the more strongly parents identified with their role as protector and the more hesitant they were to vaccinate. What was needed was a message that spoke more to the heart and less to the head.

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And so, #BraveLikeME was born. The campaign tapped into the natural inclination to talk about “being brave” anytime a child needed a shot, helping to normalize the Covid vaccine.  It reinforced the key fact that vaccines are the best way to protect 5-11 year olds from the Covid virus and variants.  A new #BraveLikeME landing page, videos, social media posts, and digital ads all brought the message home.

Saving lives through behavior change

Maine was first in the nation to achieve 80% of adults vaccinated. As of August 2021, Maine ranked 3rd in the nation for total population vaccinated. And while currently there is no national tracking of vaccination rate for 12- to 19-year-olds, by August 2021, Maine had already vaccinated over 50% of that population. Not only are the results of the campaign clear, they’ve never been more important.

As of March 2022

Maine children aged 5-11 fully vaccinated compared to 28% in the US
Maine children 5-11 received their first dose compared to 34% in the US
Maine adolescents aged 12-17 fully vaccinated compared to 28% in the US
Maine adolescents 12-17 who received their first dose compared to 34% in the US