Covid-19 ‘Look them in the eyes’: Is it grim enough?

covidSo, with the nation still in the grip of Covid and more than 100,000 dead, the Government has finally launched a hard-hitting campaign, designed to hammer home to the public the extreme pressures faced by frontline workers during the pandemic and urge the public to stay at home.

With a shift in tone, the new campaign features stark footage and testimonials of Covid patients and staff who are working around the clock to look after them at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

Kicking off with a new TV ad, with radio, OOH, digital, print and social to follow, it documents the emotion of the NHS staff and Covid patients, and challenges the public to question their actions, It ends by asking: “Look them in the eyes and tell them you are doing all you can to stop the spread of Covid-19”?

For once, actor Mark Strong makes way, with the voiceover by Game of Thrones and Delicious star star Iain Glenn.

Separate executions will feature other key workers, including bus drivers, pharmacists and shop assistants, who are all working on the frontline. They  lead with a similar narrative, calling on the conscience of the public to think about their actions, and ask: Is your bus journey or trip to the shops essential? Are you exercising and not meeting friends? Can you honestly say that you have never bent the rules? It reminds the public to adhere to the principles of Hands, Face and Space, and to Stay at Home.

Developed by MullenLowe on the back of insights that revealed the current messaging in the ‘Stay at Home’ campaign had resulted in reduced levels of social contact, the campaign has been designed to encourage people to follow the rules and take personal responsibility for their behaviour.

The UK’s Covid figures are grim to say the least, with over 1,000 people dying every day for the past fortnight. Currently, someone is admitted to hospital every 30 seconds with the virus, and a quarter of those are under the age of 55. There are 35,000 beds taken up in England by Covid patients.

Conrad Bird CBE, director of campaigns and marketing at the Covid-19 Hub, Cabinet Office, commented: “The Stay Home, Save Lives message is absolutely critical right now, and this new campaign highlights the very real and serious pressure the NHS and front-line workers are under. We know that lockdown fatigue is setting in and we need this campaign to remind the public why they must follow stay at home and follow the rules – it is the easiest way they can help and will make the biggest difference.”

MullenLowe executive partner Tom Knox added: “This is one of the most important public health campaigns of our generation. Being able to show the reality of Covid for patients and for the NHS in such a powerful way, we believe, is the best way to ensure compliance with the key actions we all need to take.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, this is more like it, as we urged a fortnight ago, we don’t need grim Whitty, we need the grim reality and this campaign certainly delivers that. Whether it goes far enough to jolt those intent on ignoring the restrictions, of course, is another matter.

There will always be idiots, like the 150 who attended a wedding at Yesodey Hatorah Girls’ Senior School in Stamford Hill, north London, last week; the other 150 who went to a funeral at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles in Welwyn Garden City; and the 200 who decided to have it large at a house party in Knightsbridge.

Do they feel bad about NHS staff and other key workers? It seems not.  Even so, if it makes others wake up and smell the Covid, it will have done all it can.

Decision Marketing Adometer: A “we told you so” 9 out of 10

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