These days, we’re surrounded by questions about COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness. A new study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that 2-dose COVID-19 vaccinations are highly effective at preventing hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and intensive care admissions due to the virus. The study was co-authored by a large group of medical experts, including scientists from Indiana University’s School of Medicine, Fairbanks School of Public Health, and Regenstrief Institute. The results, based on real-world evidence gathered from electronic health records at nearly 200 hospitals around the United States, show that the vaccines provide high levels of protection for populations who have been hit particularly hard by the virus, including older adults and minorities. The study was also one of the first to look at the effectiveness of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine. It was found to be 73 percent effective against emergency department and urgent care visits, and 68 percent against hospitalizations. Shaun Grannis, of the Regenstrief Institute and IU’s School of Medicine, says the study’s evidence corroborates the results of clinical trials and provides even more confidence in the vaccines. It’s also an excellent example of how collaboration between health entities can provide new and beneficial insights, he says.
In other news, when a TV or movie character uses Dove soap or drinks a Coke, that’s product placement – a form of advertising in which a company pays to have its product on the set of a movie or TV show or music video. These days, as online streaming has exploded, allowing us to skip ads with a click, product placement has become a multi-billion dollar business. There is evidence showing that product placements are persuasive, says IU professor of marketing Beth Fossen; however, sometimes they do not work as intended, she says. The placements that seem to influence viewers the most are those that strike a careful balance between being noticeable and not too overt, Fossen says. Viewers tend to be turned off if a product placement is too prominent, such as when a character in the show holds the product and talks about it. Viewers are also averse to product placements surrounded by other advertising, Fossen says – for example, a Nike ad that autoplays before a YouTube video followed by a product placement for Nike in the first few minutes of the same video. Placements that are too obvious or prominent annoy us as viewers, Fossen says, because they trigger something called “persuasion knowledge” – the phenomenon of getting defensive when we know someone is trying to persuade us – and because they interfere with our viewing experience. How can marketers get it right? Fossen says research shows that viewers are most influenced by verbal product placements, in which the product or brand name is spoken by one of the characters but not shown, and by product placements that appear earlier in a show or movie, before we get fixated on what’s going to happen next. It’s a delicate balance for advertisers, she says, as they try to influence viewers through content that won’t be skipped or put on mute.