Did a Funeral Home Advertise Using the Slogan ‘Don’t Get Vaccinated’?

Photographs of a truck advertising "Wilmore Funeral Home" in North Carolina emerged in September 2021. But who was really behind the campaign?

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Electronics, Phone, Mobile Phone
Image via Twitter screenshot

Claim

In September 2021, a funeral home advertised in North Carolina using the slogan "Don't get vaccinated."

Rating

Mostly False
Mostly False
About this rating
What's True

Photographs of a truck bearing the slogan "Don't get vaccinated" and the purported business name "Wilmore Funeral Home" were authentic, and not the result of digital editing. But...

What's False

The campaign had nothing to do with any real funeral home, and was instead was an effort, on the part of a Charlotte, North Carolina advertising agency, to encourage the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Origin

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In September 2021, social media users enthusiastically shared photographs of what appeared to be a mobile advertisement for a North Carolina funeral home that employed the unconventional strategy of encouraging members of the public not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 — with the implication being that, since lower vaccination rates would lead to a higher number of otherwise preventable deaths, this would give the funeral directors more “customers,” as it were.

On Sept. 19, for example, Twitter user @yourgeniushands posted a picture of the truck, along with the following description: “This truck is making laps around Bank of America Stadium before the Panthers game in Charlotte.” 

The truck itself bore the slogan “Don’t get vaccinated,” along with the name “Wilmore Funeral Home” and the website “WilmoreFuneralHome.com.” 

Photographs of the truck were authentic, and not the result of digital editing. However, the ad campaign had nothing to do with any real funeral home. Rather, it was created by the Charlotte advertising agency Boone Oakley, and was actually designed to encourage the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19. As such, we are issuing a rating of “Mostly False.”

Other photographs of the truck, taken from various angles, were posted to Facebook, demonstrating that the messaging on the truck was not the result of digital editing. The screenshot below shows just a selection of photographs of the truck, posted to Facebook, and demonstrates the significant popularity of those pictures on that platform:

The truck also bore the logo and phone number of Crenshaw Visions, a Lancaster, South Carolina advertising firm. 

The website WilmoreFuneralHome.com consisted of the following message: 

Get vaccinated now. 
If not, see you soon.

On the site, the phrase “Get vaccinated now” linked to the COVID-19 vaccination portal for StarMed Healthcare, a Charlotte healthcare provider. 

After this fact check was originally published, the Charlotte advertising firm Boone Oakley claimed responsibility for the “Wilmore Funeral Home” campaign, writing on Twitter “It was us. Get vaccinated”:

Snopes spoke to the agency’s president and creative director, David Oakley, who confirmed that the campaign was intended to encourage members of the public to get vaccinated, and had no connection to any real funeral home. Oakley provided copies of text messages which contained plans for the “Wilmore” campaign, dated weeks before its Sept. 19 launch, thereby definitively proving Boone Oakley was indeed behind the eye-catching campaign.

Even before Snopes obtained this definitive proof, good reasons existed to doubt that the campaign had any link to a real funeral home. 

We checked databases kept by the North Carolina Board of Funeral Services, and the South Carolina Board of Funeral Service, and we could find no licensed funeral home or funeral home professional using the name Wilmore. Nor did we find any listing for a “Wilmore Funeral Home” on the websites of the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association or the South Carolina Funeral Directors Association

This could have meant that “Wilmore Funeral Home” is registered in another state or that it was registered only very recently in either North Carolina or South Carolina. However, as we know now for certain, it was because the business was in fact the creation of a Charlotte ad agency.

Although the 2021 North Carolina ad campaign had no connection to any real funeral home, such a business has previously used the ironic slogan “Don’t get vaccinated” in order to advertise its services, in a very different set of circumstances.

In 2018, the Taffo funeral home in Rome, Italy posted an ad to Facebook that featured a photograph of coffins stacked on top of one another, with the tagline “Non vaccinatevi / Siamo pronti anche ad un’epidemia” (“Don’t get vaccinated / We’re also ready for an epidemic”):

The ad was an ironic dig at anti-vaccine activists, who had opposed an expansion of childhood vaccine requirements signed into law a year earlier, in Italy. 

In 2017, after a series of significant measles outbreaks, the Italian parliament passed a law that expanded from four to 10 the number of vaccinations required for children aged up to 16, as a condition of attending school.  

Boone Oakley president David Oakley told Snopes he was unaware of the Taffo funeral home ad, until it was brought to his attention by Snopes. 


Sources: 
 
NCBFS Online Applications :: https://ncbfs.igovsolution.net/online/Lookups/Individual_Lookup.aspx. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
 
Assoc, South Carolina Funeral Directors. “South Carolina Funeral Directors Association | Mt. Pleasant SC.” South Carolina Funeral Directors Association | Mt. Pleasant SC, https://www.scfda.org/fx-stockpages-legacy-directory. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
 
Association, North Carolina Funeral Directors. “Funeral Home Directory | North Carolina Funeral Directors Association | Raleigh NC Funeral Home and Cremation.” Funeral Home Directory | North Carolina Funeral Directors Association | Raleigh NC Funeral Home and Cremation, https://www.ncfda.org/funeral-home-directory. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
 

Funeral Board. https://verify.llronline.com/LicLookup/Funeral/Funeral.aspx?div=31&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.

Home – Crenshaw Visions. https://crenshawvisions.com/. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
 
“Vaccine.” StarMed Healthcare, https://starmed.care/vaccine/. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
 
Wilmore Funeral Home. https://wilmorefuneralhome.com/. Accessed 20 Sept. 2021.
 
D’Ancona, Fortunato, et al. “The Law on Compulsory Vaccination in Italy: An Update 2 Years after the Introduction.” Eurosurveillance, vol. 24, no. 26, June 2019, p. 1900371. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2019.24.26.1900371.
 
“L’ironica campagna pubblicitaria di una società di onoranze funebri, sui vaccini.” Agi, https://www.agi.it/cultura/vaccini_taffo_no_vax-4249551/news/2018-08-08/. Accessed 24 Sept. 2021.
Recent Updates
  1. Updated [24 Sept., 2021): Added reference to a 2018 advertisement, by the Taffo funeral home in Rome, Italy, which used the slogan "Don't get vaccinated" as an ironic gesture of support for childhood vaccinations.
  2. Updated [23 Sept., 2021): Rating changed from "Mixture" to "Mostly False," after Snopes obtained definitive proof that the "Wilmore Funeral Home" campaign had no connection to any real funeral home, and was intended to encourage COVID-19 vaccination.
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