Governor Gavin Newsom announced several new partnerships this week offering new incentives to vaccinate during the leadup to California’s reopening on Tuesday and the final “Vax-A-Million” drawing on Friday.
In a speech this weekend, Newsom specifically noted partnerships with Taco Bell, Chipotle, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Golden State Warriors and the Team LA Store at STAPLES Center. On June 15th, Taco Bell will give out free seasoned “beef Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos” to customers who show their COVID-19 vaccination card, with Chipotle giving out a free topping, or equivalent side serving, of Queso Blanco with the purchase of any full-priced meal for vaccinated Californians.
Meanwhile, throughout the week, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Team LA Store will offer 15% discounts on merchandise for vaccinated individuals while the Golden State Warriors shop at the Chase Center will offer a 20% discount.
Newsom noted that the new partnerships are vital in getting more people to vaccinate this week as California reopens.
“Californians are ready to come roaring back, they’ve proven that by getting vaccinated and helping our state keep COVID-19 transmission rates at record-breaking lows,” said Governor Newsom in a statement. “[The] drawing and the new partnerships with California-based businesses are another exciting opportunity to express our gratitude and build excitement as we head into our state’s full reopening.”
However, experts note that the new incentives to vaccinate are largely lacking and not enticing to those who have decided not to get vaccinated.
“It’s almost insulting,” said Francine Logan, a marketing expert who has worked with hundreds of companies to help create unique promotions and advertisements for nearly 20 years to the Globe on Monday. “Consumers today are extremely savvy in knowing when something promotional is offered to bring them in to simply spend more. Loss leaders.”
“That’s what California is doing this week. The Taco Bell thing is simply promoting a new product in the hope that people like it and spend money on it in the future. Chipotle actually requires you to buy something. And the stores promotions do too. This isn’t a plan to get people vaccinated in my eyes, or even a thank you to people for being vaccinated. It’s just a new way to advertise to people.”
“If the state was truly trying to do something, either to get more people vaccinated or to thank people who have, they would have offered a free meal somewhere. Even if it’s like an extra value meal somewhere. We’ve learned that there is a sincere level in giving something free, and it usually comes down to giving essentially a free lunch. We’ve done promotions between schools and pizza places to give kids a free meal if they read so many books for example. When it’s at free lunch levels, then it’s just good advertising for everyone involved.”
“As soon as I read that vaccination press release, I thought to myself that there is no way that Californians couldn’t see what was really going on here. It’s just incredibly obvious. That $50 gift card the state offered for new vaccinations? Arguably worked because it was free money, a ‘free lunch’ per sey. Two million were offered and 2 million doses were reported in the first week of the program. But this? It makes no sense. It’s a major step down to what the state was offering before.”
California reports a slight increase in vaccinations since the beginning of June
Both the new promotions and the June 15th state reopening will lead to the final vaccination lottery drawing on Friday. Seen as a “grand finale” to the “Vax-a-million” program, 10 vaccinated Californians are due to receive $1.5 million each in a drawing, much more than the previous $50,000 given away to 15 people lotteries held on the last two Fridays.
Due to recently increasing the age range, as well as the offer of a $50 gift card for being fully vaccinated by the state, California became one of the few states to report an increase in week-over-week vaccinations since the beginning of June, with 700,000 new people receiving their first vaccination dose during the past week.
As of Sunday, 18.7 million people in the state, or roughly 55% total of those being eligible for being vaccinated, have been fully vaccinated. An additional 3.7 million, or 11%, also have at least one dose. Among adults, California also has above 70% vaccinated, becoming the first state to meet President Joe Biden’s July 4th goal of 70% of adults nationwide.
“California is on track for a safe reopening next week thanks in large part to the efforts of so many residents who have done their part in getting vaccinated,” said California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Dr. Tomas Aragon. “We know there remain Californians who need to take this step. When we move beyond the Blueprint for a Safer Economy over the coming days, our work to provide resources in our hardest hit communities and answer the public’s COVID-19 vaccine questions will continue.”
California may offer additional incentives to vaccinate later this year depending on the state need for more to vaccinate.
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