Government launches new coronavirus advert with stay at home or 'people will die' message

The Government has scaled up its public health messaging with a series of striking adverts warning the public "people will die" if stay-at-home measures are ignored during the coronavirus lockdown.

Full-page adverts featuring the new messages have been placed in most national newspapers, while social media users have also been targeted.

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

Other messages include the slogan "Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives".

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."

Louis Hill, a public relations expert and managing director of The Source PR, said the Government was "learning from their mistakes" in terms of its communications strategy.

The Government began daily Covid-19 press conferences in mid-March. Credit: PA

Mr Hill said: "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.

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.

Since testing positive for Covid-19, Mr Johnson has been posting self-taped videos on social media updating the public on the Government's actions during the outbreak.

Ministers had been accused of failing to act quickly enough to prevent the spread of the virus, initially saying it was not necessary to cancel mass gatherings including football matches and concerts.

Mr Johnson attracted criticism after stating at the beginning of March that he would continue shaking people's hands despite medical guidance not to do so.

The new advertising 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.

The group is known for using brash messaging, memes and pop culture references to gain traction on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The Conservative campaign came under the spotlight for a number of controversial stunts during the election, including the rebranding of one of the Tory party Twitter accounts to FactcheckUK and a poster series showing Jeremy Corbyn in a chicken suit.

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