Creative PSA COVID-19

'Hands. Face. Space': UK government's latest Covid-19 campaign splits opinion


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

September 10, 2020 | 5 min read

You may not be anywhere near the office water cooler right now, but we still want to spotlight the must buzz-worthy creative from the brands that should be on your radar. Today, we're exploring why the UK government's latest Covid-19 public health campaign is dividing opinion.

Hands, face, space: UK government's latest Covid-19 campaign splits opinion

The strategy (and execution) behind the health push has divided opinion among the British public and advertising industry alike / UK Government

As spring turned into summer, the UK government's ‘Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’ message transformed into ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’. Now, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is offering up, ‘Hands. Face. Space’ as his mantra to the public.

On Wednesday (9 September), a campaign from MullenLowe London urging people to make sure they wash their hands, use a mask and maintain social distancing was launched in a bid to keep infections down as winter approaches.

The slogan, described as “pretty punchy”, by the Prime Minister is being backed by an OOH, digital and TV ad push. The hero spot (above) shows a range of people washing their hands, ensuring they are social distancing and wearing a mask in public areas. All the characters featured explain that they are doing so to help protect family, friends, colleagues, and strangers from the virus.

A separate, more scientific film highlights how the virus spreads in an indoor setting – which is particularly pertinent in the lead-up to winter.

As ever, the strategy (and execution) behind the health push has divided opinion among the British public and advertising industry alike.

Some even pointed out the similarities between the phrase and President Trump's "person, woman, man, camera, TV" Fox News blunder.

The campaign arrives at the same time as fresh lockdown rules restricting gatherings to a maximum of six people are implemented after experts claimed that the public was becoming “too relaxed“ following a spike in infections. Health Secretary Matt Hancock was among those who raised concerns about the possibility of a second Covid-19 peak, saying the virus was “still a threat“.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty says: “As we approach winter and inevitably spend more time indoors, we need the public to keep following this important advice to control the spread of the virus.

“‘Hands. Face. Space’ emphasises important elements of the guidance we want everybody to remember: wash your hands regularly, use a face covering when social distancing is not possible and try to keep your distance from those not in your household.“

Creative PSA COVID-19

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