The government’s COVID-19 awareness campaign

Deemed the greatest challenge to public health in a century – the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to our way of life.

With the country currently in a state of lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus – the government are using every medium available to propagate their public awareness campaign; reiterating the necessity of social distancing and advising the country to focus specifically on immaculate hand hygiene.

Our expanded campaign will focus on ensuring the public knows exactly what they should be doing to keep themselves and others safe.

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care


The government and the newspaper industry have launched a three-month advertising partnership to assist in maximising public safety and attaining national unity during the coronavirus pandemic. This includes a branded content element to further amplify public information, campaigns and messaging in a style and tone more familiar to readers.

Whilst many marketers are abandoning the somewhat archaic newspaper medium – or are simply avoiding the negative connotation of appearing alongside coronavirus related articles; the government are quickly becoming one the most integral clients to news publishers. With big advertising spends, Downing Street are in company with supermarkets, utilities, banks, telecommunications and online entertainment clients who have maintained a publicity blitz during the current crisis. 

Publishers noted that due to a diminishment of content from other brands – the government have a predominant share of voice; thus attaining undivided consumer attention. Examples being the various slogans perpetuated by Boris Johnson, featured as eye-catching cover wraps on assorted newspapers. 

Newspapers are the lifeblood of our communities and we need them now more than ever. Their role as a trusted voice and their ability to reach isolated communities is especially vital at this time. With this campaign we are both saving lives by providing essential information to the public, and supporting cherished local institutions.

Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office


Besides the daily press conferences featuring members of parliament providing the general public with COVID-19 updates; a plethora of government endorsed commercials have become a prevalent fixture within our daily television schedule. The most frequently broadcast commercial features Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty and an informative narration by actor Mark Strong – highlighting the key actions for the public to follow in the fight against coronavirus; advising people to “stay at home for seven days if they develop a high temperature or new continuous cough”.

Social media

Now the most valuable marketing channel; social media has become the focal point for Downing Street’s public awareness plan. Managed by New Zealand born digital guru and co-founder of the creative agency, Topham Geurin – Ben Guerin, has taken an approach not dissimilar to his winning strategy employed by the Conservatives during the 2019 elections – crafting eye-catching but unorthodox online messages.

By producing corny jokes intended for online ridicule; the government are able to maximise the potential reach for each message. As stated by a Number 10 insider; “one of the key aims is to get it shared and talked about as much as possible. Any engagement is good.”

The memorable slogans that have become synonymous with this government’s efforts against COVID-19, were manufactured by Ben Geurin and Isaac Levido (an Australian-born strategist for the Conservative Party). Despite the criticism of both – ‘Stay home, save lives, protect the NHS’ and the subsequent; ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’ have become cemented into the general public’s lockdown psyche. 

There is such a wall of noise and mountain of information and fake news coming at people, the ability to be heard or read is getting harder and harder. Therefore this tactic of uglifying social media content in an effort to boost its virality is a savvy move.

Giles Kenningham, former adviser to Number 10

Controlling the virus

Regardless of the controversy ignited by various pieces of content produced – a recent poll by the Express discovered that an overwhelming 89% of Britons are obeying the rules imposed by Number 10. This figure is arguably a testament to the quality of the government’s multi-channel advertising campaign. As the status of the virus evolves with each day – as does the strategy imposed by Downing Street; thus, we can be sure to expect multiple revisions in the coming weeks. 

At Cordis, we understand the importance of clarity in regards to commercial communication. Utilising our various skills in social media, copywriting, design and videography – we can help your business maximise its potential for engagement.