New government coronavirus adverts warn to stay at home or ‘people will die’

PUBLISHED: 16:18 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:18 02 April 2020

One of the posters new government campaign surrounding coronavirus. Photograph: UK Government/PA Wire.

One of the posters new government campaign surrounding coronavirus. Photograph: UK Government/PA Wire.

New government adverts over the coronavirus will warn ‘people will die’ if they don’t stay home during the coronavirus lockdown.

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One of the posters new government campaign surrounding coronavirus. Photograph: UK Government/PA Wire.One of the posters new government campaign surrounding coronavirus. Photograph: UK Government/PA Wire.

Full-page adverts featuring the new messaging - including the slogan “Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives” - have been placed in most national newspapers, while social media users have also been targeted with the advertising across a variety of platforms.

The new campaign takes a far stronger tone than any produced by the government before, using striking red and yellow colouring and featuring dramatic images of NHS staff in face masks and other protective wear.

In one example, promoted on Facebook, users are told: “If you go out, you can spread it. People will die.”

Another warns: “Anyone can get it. Anyone can spread it.”

One of the posters new government campaign surrounding coronavirus. Photograph: UK Government/PA Wire.One of the posters new government campaign surrounding coronavirus. Photograph: UK Government/PA Wire.

Downing Street, and prime minister Boris Johnson in particular, had previously faced criticism for communications from ministers and official government channels in the early stages of the outbreak.

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The new push comes after Number 10 confirmed the appointment of the Conservatives’ party campaign chief Isaac Levido to aid its communications around the Covid-19 crisis.

It has also been reported that Downing Street has hired Topham Guerin, the creative agency responsible for the Conservatives’ social media strategy during last year’s successful general election campaign.

Louis Hill, a public relations expert and managing director of The Source PR, told the PA news agency the government was “learning from their mistakes” in terms of its communications strategy.

“I believe that the government has noted that their earlier tactics were not successful, and has now moved to more open, transparent, and if you like - firmer - comms.

“The announcement of a lockdown was unlike anything our generation has ever seen. The messaging from the Government was clear and concise: you must not leave your home.

“Before this, using words such as ‘we advise’ and ‘we suggest’ meant that many did not feel inclined to follow the rules,” he added.

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