- BLK, the Black-focused dating app owned by Match Group, has partnered with rapper Juvenile, Mannie Fresh and Mia X to rework the 1998 hit "Back That Thang Up" into "Vax That Thang Up," per details emailed to Marketing Dive.
- The new song and video encourage Black singles to get vaccinated. In addition, BLK added a "Vaxified" badge that lets singles promote their vaccine status on its app. The new badge has been added by over 100,000 users in less than a month.
- The "Vax That Thang Up" push comes as vaccine coverage among the 18-29 age range is lower and growing more slowly compared to other age groups, per a CDC report cited by the brand. Majority, the agency co-founded by Shaquille O'Neal, developed the campaign.
BLK, which bills itself as the leading dating and lifestyle app for Black singles, is taking a humorous approach and tapping into '90s nostalgia to encourage vaccinations among young people — a group that has not embraced COVID-19 vaccines, even as dangerous variants emerge. Black adults under 40 are the most likely group to avoid the vaccine, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited by the brand.
"We have a direct line to the audience that needs to internalize this message," Jonathan Kirkland, BLK's head of marketing and brand, said in a statement. "The song may be playful and fun, but the underlying message is as real as it gets."
The campaign come as brands increasingly flex their marketing muscle to encourage consumers to get vaccinated. BLK sister brands including Tinder and Hinge, along with competitor Bumble, have added features like BLK's Vaxified badge to engage users who are returning to in-person dating after a year of lockdowns. Similarly, Unilever's Axe brand of male grooming products pushed hesitant Gen Zers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with its recent "Get Axeinated" campaign.
In another use of nostalgia to boost vaccine efforts, Budweiser last week recreated Bill Pullman's iconic speech in the 1996 blockbuster "Independence Day" to encourage U.S. consumers to unite and celebrate the Fourth of July as a testament to the country's progress against COVID-19. While the country fell short of President Biden's goal of getting 70% of adults partially vaccinated by the holiday, the brewer still delivered on its promise of a free beer.
When remaking "Back That Thang Up" as "Vax That Thang Up," BLK embraced the need for authenticity, a key attribute for musical branding efforts. The new song uses the original production and the rappers who made the song famous, Juvenile and Mannie Fresh, along with the "mother of Southern gangster rap" Mia X. The song marks the first time that artists from '90s powerhouses Cash Money and No Limit have officially collaborated, per the brand, giving the remake some musical gravitas.
The authentic approach may be attributed to the agency that developed the campaign. Founded this year by Shaquille O'Neal, Majority utilizes a diversity-led talent model, per details shared with Marketing Dive. The agency is one of several companies that use celebrity power to connect with culture.
"BLK is uniquely positioned to meet this historic moment, not through an academic lecture or sober manifesto, but through pop cultural content that speaks directly to the benefits of dating IRL once you're vaccinated," Majority founder Omid Farhang said in a statement.