Opponents of the government believe not enough is being done to educate the public on social responsibility and many feel that an advertising blitz similar to the £46m splurged on a Brexit-readiness campaign is what is needed to modify consumer behaviour.
This follows reports that the government has passed over advertising opportunities on Facebook to promote the official government line during the crisis.
Supermarket shelves have been stripped bare of toilet roll, pasta and hand sanitizer in recent weeks as people panic in response to the coronavirus pandemic, sparking widely publicised images of hoarders grabbing what they can for themselves, leaving vulnerable groups and NHS staff unable to purchase essentials such as baby milk, medicines and foods suitable for those with allergies.
Luke Pollard MP, shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary, said: “Panic buying is causing real harm to vulnerable groups and creating anxiety amongst all. We need people to shop sensibly and that is why Labour has been calling for a new national advertising campaign from the Government".
“Ministers have not reacted fast enough or far enough, and that is why Labour is calling for a mobilisation of advertising and PR agencies to create new TV adverts, newspaper, digital and billboard advertising to take on panic buying. Those who specialise in persuading us to buy products now have the opportunity to save lives with their work. Please step up and help. We need people to do the right thing at this time of national crisis: shop sensibly, stay at home and slow the spread of the virus.”
This approach will see Labour appeal to advertising agencies directly with its own ‘pitch’ calling for the industry to design a campaign, on a pro bono basis, that will encourage shoppers to engage common sense when headed down the aisle.
The party is also requesting that advertisers divert existing budgets toward support for coronavirus messaging.
Those answering the call are invited to share their designs on social media using the hashtags #covid19advert and #dontshoptillyoudrop.
Takeaway specialists Deliveroo have been among the few winners of the crisis, benefitting from increased demand as shoppers follow official advice to remain indoors.