Picture Credit: Danang – Vietnam. Picture: Danang FantastiCity

The COVID-19 outbreak is a time of chaos and change. From a social marketing perspective, people are encouraged, or even pushed to change many of their daily behaviours (e.g., hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, lockdown and social distancing) during this time to help prevent the spread of and control the disease. This article encapsulates a successful story of Vietnam in changing behaviours to combat the pandemic.

Vietnam has attracted international media and press on their extraordinary results in the fight with the COVID-19. For the last five months, Vietnam has managed to contain the infected case number under 350 and the death number at 0 for a population of 97 million, despite their geographical proximity to China, where the pandemic started. Look at what has been done for this “magic” to happen.

At the macro level, the Vietnamese government attempted to be transparent in disseminating information and statistics regarding the pandemic. During the critical time, they continuously provided the public with directives and guideline through various mass and personal communication channels (e.g., TV, posters, community cars, call-waiting music, and text messages). They had quick responses to the situation by implementing tracing measures (e.g., health declaration), adopting selective (rather than blanket) virus testing, and quarantine triage. The government was also very quick in locking down their border, closing non-essential businesses, regulating face mask-wearing with monetary penalties, and ruling social distancing. Apart from the regulations, they also carried out financial and food initiatives to support vulnerable groups (e.g., the “rice ATMs” to provide food to the poor).

At the meso level, businesses and opinion leaders (e.g., celebrities), in collaboration with government agencies, called for the public’s compliance to the government’s instructions, and the collective power or solidarity of community through creative communications (e.g., the “Thank my Vietnam” campaign). Various campaigns were also developed to tribute the contribution of frontline people (e.g., doctors, and nurses), as well as to fundraise for the COVID-19 Prevention Fund. Businesses turned to online markets, investing more strongly in their online channels. The take-away business model was also widely adopted during this time. Military, school, and community buildings were utilized for quarantine camps.

At the micro level, to help people understand and find meanings in the recommended behaviours (e.g., hand washing, and staying at home), concrete and creative solutions were created and featured in viral videos on social media (e.g., music and Tiktok videos). From observations, the appeals of these social communications often highlighted the hedonic and family values which resemble Vietnam’s cultural values.

Taken together, a wide range of measures from different approaches for various segments of the population have been integrated to bring about the current Vietnamese success in the COVID-19 fighting. At the time this article is written, the pandemic still gets complicated globally. Every single country is no doubt under its adverse influence. I wish all countries and people to be resilient in defeating the pandemic and preparing for the “new normal” afterwards.

In short, recipe for the Vietnamese success = Transparency + Quick responses + Creativity + Solidarity.

Khai Trieu Tran
The University of Danang – University of Economics, Danang, Vietnam
trantrieukhai@yahoo.com; trantrieukhai@due.edu.vn


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