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The shifting tone of Government messaging and slogans from the past year


Since the start of the pandemic, the Government has driven the message of how to combat the spread of Covid-19 through the use of snappy slogans and televised briefings, but experts believe some of the messaging has not always been clear and consistent.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously admitted that over time, the rules have been “complicated and confusing” for the public.

Sally Dibb, professor of marketing and society at Coventry University said effective messaging needed to follow four basic principles – it should be simple, consistent, well-targeted and deliver on what it promises.

“Arguably, the Government’s messaging has failed on all counts,” she told the PA news agency.

Stay at home sign in high street / PA Wire

“In the UK, the coronavirus messaging has shifted around all over the place and has lacked a central anchor.”

She also said the advice behind the Government’s slogans were “often ludicrously complex”, citing one example of the latest public guidance on what has changed in England on March 8 which is more than 6,000 words long on the YouGov website.

Over the past year, the Government has encouraged people to follow advice with the use of slogans, which have changed over time depending on the severity of the pandemic and to coincide with the gradual easing – and imposing – of restrictions.

When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, the Prime Minister introduced the slogan “Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives” as non-essential businesses such as bars, pubs and restaurants as well as places of worship were instructed to shut.

Prof Dibb praised the “Stay at home” message, which she described as “specific and unambiguous” which clearly instructed people how to behave.

The messaging then changed in May to “Stay alert, control the virus, save lives” in a move to help ease the UK lockdown, but not end it immediately.

Matt Hancock stood on podium with / PA Media

At the time, health experts expressed concern that the slogan lacked clarity and was confusing, with fears it may lead to an increase in “risky behaviour” from the public.


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