Govt launches virus ad blitz across UK newspapers in three-month deal

Coverwraps and home-page takeovers encourage Brits to stay at home.

'All in, all together': ad will run in weekly titles next week
'All in, all together': ad will run in weekly titles next week

The UK government is running a multimillion-pound ad campaign across hundreds of newspapers over the next three months encouraging the nation to stay at home.

"All in, all together" kicked off today with a coverwrap and home-page takeover across all regional and national daily news brands. Weekly titles will run the ad next week.

On the front of the newspapers, the ad reads: "Stay at home for the NHS, your family, your neighbours, your nation, the world and life itself."

On the back cover, there is a rainbow – the symbol of support for key workers during the fight against the pandemic – accompanied by the copy: "Staying at home for Britain." This doubles up as a poster that readers can display in their window.

It is the first time that there has been a coverwrap across all news titles at the same time.

OmniGOV, the specialist unit within Manning Gottlieb OMD that manages the Government's estimated £150m-a-year media-buying account, co-ordinated the deal.

The work was jointly created by the newspaper industry. ITV News reported that the industry had asked for £45m for the campaign but it is unclear whether the government has paid that much.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said: "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."

The move follows an extension of the lockdown across the UK as foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced yesterday (Thursday) that this will be for "at least" another three weeks.

Tracy De Groose, executive chair of Newsworks, the body representing the news industry, said: "We are working with the government throughout this crisis to deliver their important advertising messages in a way that will resonate with readers. This is an amazing first for the newspaper industry and a clear demonstration of how we can bring it altogether for a brand campaign of this scale.

"As we all know, the trusted flow of information is more important now than ever before and this partnership is a powerful endorsement of the strong relationship we have with our growing audiences across our local, regional and national news brands."

News brands have been reporting record readership numbers since the coronavirus outbreak started to take hold in the UK. However, this hasn’t been supported by increasing ad revenue, because many advertisers use tools that automatically block their campaigns from appearing against what is seen to be negative content, with terms such as "coronavirus" and "Covid-19" falling into these blacklists.

Campaign reported earlier this month that news brands could lose up to £50m if this practice continues. The industry is being backed by culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who has called on brands to "prevent an irreversible decline in news publishing".