The story about Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers testing positive for COVID-19 played out online the past few weeks, after he returned to the football field following a mandated quarantine.
His positive COVID-19 diagnosis was first reported November 3 and instantly became controversial because Rodgers claimed back in August that he had been “immunized.”
What insights does this story and its multiple dimensions offer for brands?
To get some context, review the chronology of major moments below, as told by a representative sample of online news articles throughout the story’s continuing timeline.
Keep in mind these articles and videos are just a handful of the thousands upon thousands of articles, opinions, social posts, videos, comments, etc. generated by this major viral moment.
Most actionable moments don’t reach this level of virality or last this long but these “big moments” are useful for gaining and sharing insights.
Like, notice how quickly this one went from news to controversy on Day 1: the story broke, and within hours, widespread opinions appeared questioning Rodgers’ veracity.
Then two days later on November 5, it took a major turn, fueled by Rodgers’ appearance on a Sirius XM show, where he responded to the criticism.
How did the biggest brand that employs him as a spokesperson respond?
At first, there was not much of a response but five days in, on November 8, following the Rodgers-less Packers’ loss to Kansas City the day before, a brand spokesperson said it encourages vaccinations but respects his right to his own personal opinion.
Opinions continued to proliferate.
The NFL fined his team and him.
The Packers activated him for the next game.
He played and beat Seattle.
The next several days saw stories that were reactionary trajectories off the main narrative:
- Punditry and humorous commentary,
- The NFL announced new COVID protocols ahead of Thanksgiving games, and
- Health professionals decried the continued spread of disinformation about the vaccines and alternative treatments.
How would your brand have approached this story and all the content it has generated?
1. Does your brand routinely target content in the Sports category?
2. Does your brand routinely avoid news about COVID-19?
3. Does your brand have a strategy for avoiding misinformation?
4. If your brand competed in the insurance category, how would you approach content relating to this story?
Click this link to participate in a poll on these questions, and we’ll share the results with you via email.
Aaron Rodgers Vaccine Story Chronology with representative content samples