Coronavirus live blog: 21-27 March

Coronavirus: latest news (Getty Images)
Coronavirus: latest news (Getty Images)

Anomaly campaign puts the 'us' in 'virus'.

Friday 27 March

4pm: Anomaly puts the 'us' in 'virus' with open-source campaign

Anomaly has launched a campaign encouraging people to practise social distancing.

Downloadable posters, logos and animations read: "It needs all of us, to save more of us" in bold font, alongside the word "virus", which has been partially crossed out to leave "us" visible. The campaign also hails the efforts of frontline workers. It is free for any interested institutions, community groups and individuals wishing to spread the message online.

3.45pm: Guardian Jobs pledges free ads for NHS listings

The Guardian's Jobs section will give free ads to all NHS vacancy listings "for as long as necessary" during the coronavirus outbreak, the newspaper announced today.

The job ads will be promoted by other ads placed around The Guardian's website. The publisher is also extending its maximum length of job ads from four to six weeks to ensure more potential candidates see the listings.

This applies to current ads and will be automatically added to any job booked on Guardian Jobs before 30 April. 

2pm: D&AD cancels festival

D&AD has cancelled its annual festival, which was scheduled for May. The D&AD Awards will still go ahead, with judging taking place virtually. The entry deadline has been extended to 3 April and the eligibility period to 19 April, while digital submissions are now available for all categories.

10am: Unofficial Netflix campaign idea reveals spoilers to encourage people to stay home

If you don't want to risk seeing a spoiler for your favourite show on Netflix, you should stay at home. This is the clever message that has come out of Miami Advertising School Europe (based in Hamburg), which has created a series of billboards that reveal plot twists from popular programmes on the streaming platform. It was written by Matithorn Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo and art directed by Seine Kongruangkit.

It is not a real campaign, just an idea – so it remains to be seen whether Netflix will actually commission this. 

8.30am: Dazed Media launches #AloneTogether campaign

Dazed Media has created a campaign to encourage its audiences to take part in a daily creative exercise, curated by leading names in music, art, fashion, food, design, science and politics. The #AloneTogether initiative aims to engage the home-bound next generation across the world through daily artist takeovers broadcast via Dazed’s Instagram account.

Artists including Charli XCX, Ghetto Gastro, Tommy Cash, Shygirl and Willo Perron will be among Dazed’s creative community who will offer creative sessions such as writing quarantine diaries, sharing videos from their homes, creating tracks live with fans and sharing art and cookery classes. 

Thursday 26 March

8pm: #ClapForOurCarers

Many hundreds of thousands of Britons came together at 8pm to clap outside their front doors and from the windows of their homes to thank NHS staff and carers in the fight against coronavirus.

Media owners, including out-of-home companies, offered inventory to advertise the initiative and Channel 4 teamed up with 39 advertisers for a special ad break in support of the NHS.

5pm: Government announces grant for freelancers

Freelancers will be able to apply for a grant of up to £2,500 a month as the government takes measures to help them during the outbreak. However, it won't be paid until June and will be paid as a single sum. 

Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, welcomed the relief. He said: "Our self-employed and freelance colleagues are a crucial part of the advertising and wider creative industries and we hope that these measures will give them the increased sense of security they desperately require at the present time and hope that they can be implemented as soon as possible.

"Meanwhile, we will review the finer detail of the minimum income support provided for in the announcement and will continue to work closely with HM Treasury and DCMS [Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport] officials to help to ensure that this financial assistance is delivered in time for the people it is designed to help."

3pm: Charity initiative asks people to #CommitYourCommute

Another initiative from Creature: it has partnered charity Hospitality Action to help the hospitality industry, which has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The scheme asks people to #CommitYourCommute, taking the money that they are saving on transport by working from home and donating it to Hospitality Action. You can find more information here.

2.30pm: Creature makes messages of thanks for essential workers

Creature made signs to thank the people who are still working in essential jobs during the coronavirus crisis. The gratitude messages resemble recognisable logos from organisations such as the NHS, TfL and Post Office. The agency is encouraging people to use the signs and share them with others. You can download them here.

2.15pm: England football team get nostalgic with #ReLions series

The England national football team are set to stream their 1997 Le Tournoi match against Italy, coinciding on what would have been the their next match tomorrow (27 March), in an attempt to raise spirits among footy fans.

This is followed by a rerun of England’s 1-0 victory against Denmark in 1994, Terry Venables’ first game in charge of the team. The matches will be shown across England’s YouTube, Twitter and Facebook channels.

9am: Sport England offers creative ideas for people to exercise indoors  

Sport England: campaign features home workout options

Sport England has launched a national campaign to help people stay active during the coronavirus outbreak. "Join the movement", by FCB Inferno, focuses on community-building by encouraging participants to share their experiences on social media and inspire others to join in, using the hashtag #StayInWorkOut.

An online hub gives access to home workout options, as well as suggestions for exercising outside close to your home. Work will also run across digital and social media. 

8.45am: Channel 4 gets creative with isolation content

Channel 4 has announced its first wave of creative plans designed to keep morale high during isolation.

The plans involve pulling forward the launch of new daily show The Steph Show, which is set in journalist Steph McGovern’s living room, as well as new programmes including Grayson’s Art Club, Grime Gran on How Not to be a Dick in a Pandemic and a nuptials special called Lockdown Wedding Live.

The broadcaster is also extending the duration of Channel 4 News to 90 minutes every Monday, alongside fortnightly hour-long debate specials on the ongoing pandemic. 

8.30am: Adland organises Fifa tournament for agencies

The ad industry is making the most of a bad situation with the launch of a digital football tournament.

Announced via a Twitter account, aptly named Quarantined Adland Fifa 20 Tournament, it is inviting ad agencies, media agencies and post-production houses to put their Fifa skills to the test in light of Britain’s ongoing Covid-19 lockdown. 

So far, sign-ups include Adam & Eve/DDB, Dark Horses, Droga5 and Octagon. As the competition’s Twitter account remarks: "When life hands you a quarantine, make quarantinis. Or something."

Wednesday 25 March

6pm: NHS launches third ‘lockdown’ stage of COVID-19 campaign

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty returns to the small screen for the third phase of the government and NHS’ coronavirus campaign, featuring more prescriptive, post-lockdown instructions to the UK public.

The 30-second "vital update" kicks off with the words "Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives" on screen and voiced by actor Mark Strong, before Whitty speaks direct to camera. It is supported by print, radio, digital and social media activity.

Social animations list a series of acceptable behaviours as denoted by Whitty, set alongside green ticks, such as "To shop for basic necessities or pick up medicine" and "To exercise once a day, alone or with members of your household". A final point is set against a red cross, warning: "Do not meet others, even friends or family."

5.30pm: PSBs urge government to support freelancers

The UK's public-service broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and S4C – are urging the government to work with them to support freelancers during the coronavirus pandemic. The PSBs have penned a joint letter to the chancellor to highlight the value of freelancers and urge the government to come up with a support package.

The letter explains that the UK creative industries now contribute more than £100bn to the UK economy and that the film and TV production sectors are "a vital and growing area of the UK (growing at five times the rate of the UK economy as a whole)".

It adds: "Of the creative workers in film and TV, 50% of those engaged in screen production are freelancers, so it is true to say that the global success and reputation of the UK creative industries depends on them."

The letter ends by offering to work with the government to help set up a package that would protect incomes and offer access to statutory sick pay "as a matter of urgency".

It was sent today (Wednesday) and signed by BBC director-general Tony Hall, ITV chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall, Channel 4 chief executive Alex Mahon, ViacomCBS Networks International UK and Australia president Maria Kyriacou and S4C chief executive Owen Evans.

4.30pm: Channel 4 cuts late booking fees for three months

Channel 4 is cutting late booking charges over the next three months and reducing its advanced booking deadlines from eight to four weeks, as it looks to support advertisers, encourage advertising and protect its own revenue from impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

1pm: How can the government improve its messaging around coronavirus?

Many feel the government's advertising around Covid-19 manages to somehow be both specific and vague. Campaign asked adland what it thought about the communications so far.

12.30pm: Campaign podcast: What now for live-events marketing?

This week, the Campaign team reflects on major coronavirus stories affecting the advertising industry and takes a closer look at how the crisis is impacting experiential marketing. Listen here.

11am: A summer without festivals is an invitation for innovation

This is the year that festivals came to an abrupt halt, postponed or cancelled across the globe due to the coronavirus. In the gaping void lies a chance to innovate and an opportunity to inspire an audience desperate to gather in fields once more and lose themselves in the music. Campaign speaks to experience creators and culture makers about the prospect of a summer without festivals.

10.15am: Stockpiling leads to £467m rise in grocery sales

UK grocery sales: 22% in sales credited to stockpiling

UK supermarkets have boasted a 22% increase in grocery sales during the week ending 14 March, according to Neilsen – an additional £467m more in purchases compared with the same period last year.

This increase is largely credited to increased stockpiling of grocery, health and personal-care items by consumers. Unsurprisingly, sales of "pandemic pantry" products have risen, with sales of children's medicine growing by 228%, while impulse snacking items are up 18% and beer, wine and spirits have increased by 11%.

"Our data shows that stockpiling has intensified as consumers continuously purchase more of the same items, leading to a noticeable rise in ‘out of stocks’," Mike Watkins, head of retailer and business insight at Nielsen, said. 

"We anticipate we'll see a further surge in sales as retailers continue to work hard and put various measures in place to keep the shelves full over the next few weeks."

8.45am: News industry launches free deliveries

Newspaper publishers have banded together to ensure that every national newspaper is available for free home delivery for the next six to 12 weeks – a first for the industry. 

Through extending the existing Home News Delivery initiative, outlets including The Guardian, i, The Scotsman and The Sun plan to inform and educate readers about coronavirus from the safety of their homes. Publishers are also collaborating in a drive to get editions to printers earlier in order to ease supply chains and get to wholesalers sooner.

"The role of newspapers in this unprecedented time of national upheaval is to inform and advise readers on how to stay safe with considered analysis of the latest developments," David Newell, chief executive of the News Media Association, said.

"Their pages will be important in guiding the country through this crisis and providing vital content for both those isolated at home and working across the country. Thank you to all retailers for all you are doing for the country at this difficult time."

8.30am: M&S partners with Deliveroo to deliver during the lockdown

Deliveroo is partnering with BP and Marks & Spencer to deliver household essentials. Items will be available from 120 M&S franchise stores at BP service stations across the UK. The selected range of approximately 60 M&S products includes orange juice, milk, bread, pizza and ready meals.

Tuesday 24 March

4pm: Channel 4 displays 'stay at home' graphics

Channel 4 is helping to deliver the "stay at home" message to viewers by including an on-screen graphic across its programming. It will run across Channel 4, E4, More 4 and 4Seven.

Alex Mahon, chief executive of Channel 4, said: "During this unprecedented national crisis, we want to use our reach with mass audiences, particularly with young and hard-to-reach viewers, to spread this vital public-health message and remind everyone to follow the latest advice and stay at home."

3.30pm: Aldi in Germany runs TV spot to unite people in isolation

Aldi in Germany has launched a TV ad featuring selfie videos of staff and customers to call for solidarity during the coronavirus outbreak.

The 30-second spot, by McCann Germany, continues Aldi’s "#GemeinsamGehtAlles" campaign, translating as "together, everything is possible". It uses the slogan: "Because Aldi is here for you."

Last week, Aldi partnered McDonald's to offer the latter's staff positions at its supermarkets after branches of the fast-food chain were closed. 

Using genuine videos submitted by staff in Aldi stores and by people stuck at home, the film tells stories such as that of a neighbour who shopped for an elderly woman. "Together, everything is possible. And that’s why we thank our staff, and you, for being there," it concludes.

11am: Government media plans criticised for eschewing Facebook

The government has been criticised for opting not to post its coronavirus messaging on its official Facebook and Instagram accounts, in spite of the social network offering free ad space.

According to Sky News, prime minster Boris Johnson’s official account has also remained silent on coronavirus.

Government advertising, reinforced by a rigorous communications drive, has been prolific on platforms including TV, while the NHS has posted six ads on Facebook since the epidemic escalated, urging people displaying coronavirus symptoms to self-isolate. But the government has eschewed Facebook for its ad drive.

9am: St Luke’s reverses NHS logo to urge people to ‘Stay home now’

St Luke’s has pre-empted Labour’s call for agencies to create coronavirus work with a pithy inversion of NHS, reversing the letters to stand for "Stay home now".

The agency posted the concept on Twitter, where it explained that it had created the call to action on Saturday, adding: "Don’t send our NHS backwards." It included the hashtags #StayHomeNow and #NHSHeroes.

8.30am: Government introduces stringent lockdown measures

The government last night clamped down on social distancing, in effect imposing home isolation on the UK population unless absolutely necessary.

Shops selling non-essential items have been told they must close, as have libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship. Weddings and baptism are prohibited, although funerals are permitted.

Gatherings of more than two people not from the same household are disallowed and people are permitted to do one form of outdoor exercise a day with members of their household. Shopping for essentials is fine, but should be kept to a minimum, while travelling to and from the workplace is acceptable if working from home is not possible.

Monday 23 March

4pm: Brands urged to 'back, not block' British journalism amid coronavirus crisis

News brands are strongly urging advertisers to "back, not block" British journalism amid the Covid-19 crisis. They are calling on brands to drop blacklists for the term "coronavirus" and those similar to it so that newspapers and their journalists can continue their work.

Guardian News & Media commercial director Nick Hewat said: "Interestingly for an industry that claims to work on evidence, there is no evidence that advertising sitting alongside ‘hard news’ has any negative impact on the brand itself."

3.45pm: 'Britain get talking' returns to ITV

ITV has hailed the return of last year’s "Britain get talking" campaign, created by Uncommon Creative Studio, with Ant & Dec encouraging viewers to send messages of support in light of social isolation caused by Covid-19.

Launching today, there will be a selection of positive messages played on ITV every day in an effort to raise morale, in light of research that found hearing someone’s voice can reduce stress levels.

3.30pm: Pride in London postponed

Pride in London has announced that this year’s festivities will be postponed in light of advice from Public Health England and the UK government.

"With the climate changing daily, we need to think even further ahead and make timely decisions to protect the health and well-being of our communities, volunteers and participants," Alison Camps and Michael Salter-Church, co-chairs of Pride in London, said in a statement.

This follows the postponement of all other upcoming Pride in London events, including Pride’s Got Talent and the Pride 10K.

12pm: Nabs pledges to continue services during crisis

Nabs has said it will continue to operate its support services during the coronavirus outbreak – a time in which many in the industry could be vulnerable to financial hardship and mental-health challenges.

Chief executive Diana Tickell said: "We understand that organisations across the industry unfortunately face a huge challenge during the pandemic and their people are under immense pressure. Nabs is here to provide help with people’s help across all their well-being, including emotional and mental health, as well as financial health.

"Should colleagues find their jobs are at risk, Nabs are able to support them through that. Our grants service can provide eligible candidates with vital financial assistance while our Advice Line team can provide guidance on financial well-being."

Nabs offers services including: 

11.30am: Labour calls on agencies to combat panic-spending

Labour is urging the UK’s ad and PR agencies to help convince shoppers to stop panic buying.

The party has called for a "mobilisation of advertising and PR" shops to create TV, print, digital and out-of-home work to ease pressure on supermarket supply and reduce anxiety among consumers.

Labour is also asking that brand owners divert budgets to coronavirus messaging, using the hashtags #covid19advert and #dontshoptillyoudrop.

11am: Brands have a thing or two to learn from bands amid this ennui

"Now is the time for brands to step up to the mark," Campaign’s creativity reporter Emmet McGonagle, writes. He says that amid the ever-growing tide of cancelled music festivals including SXSW, Coachella and Glastonbury, bands have taken to the internet to interact with their fanbase from the comfort of home.

10.30am: Time Out temporarily ceases print

The weekly title, which is distributed for free across London, has stopped printing as fewer people hit the streets and public transport reduces. It said that the move is "in support of responsible health policy and in solidarity with the many people across the world who can’t go out right now".

As part of its Time In initiative launched last week, Time Out has been producing more content online around what people can do when staying at home. 

10am: H&M to supply hospitals with protective garb

Retailer H&M is rejigging its supply chain and logistics capabiltiies so it can deliver protective clothing for hospitals and healthcare workers across the globe.

The move follows chief executive Helena Helmersson’s talks with the European Union to assess how the clothing retailer can help during the outbreak.

Anna Gedda, H&M’s head of sustainability, said: "The coronavirus is dramatically affecting each and every one of us, and H&M Group is, like many other organisations, trying our best to help in this extraordinary situation. We see this is as a first step in our efforts to support in any way we can. We are all in this together and have to approach this as collectively as possible."

9.30am: ITV reduces programme budget by £100m as ad market deteriorates

ITV is reducing its programme budget by £100m in light of a weaker advertising market, the broadcaster revealed in a trading update this morning (Monday). 

ITV said in the trading update that the £100m "reflects savings from sport, including the postponement of Euro 2020, the late delivery of commissioned programming and active decisions to reduce our spend".

It added: "We have also taken steps to reduce discretionary spending by £20m in 2020. This is in addition to the £10m of savings already guided for 2020. Further, we have identified £30m of savings in our capex."

9am: Nike encourages football fans to ‘play inside’

Nike took to social media to promote social distancing through its latest campaign by Wieden & Kennedy Portland, which urges customers to "play for the world" by practising self-isolation at home.

"If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance," the ad declares, alongside the hashtags #playinside and #playfortheworld. 

It follows the brand's commitment to spend more than $15m (£12.91m) to support Covid-19 response efforts across the globe.

Sunday 22 March

9pm: McDonald's and John Lewis to shut UK stores

McDonald’s and John Lewis & Partners are among the stores that are closing on Monday. 

All UK branches of McDonald’s will shut by 7pm on Monday. The hamburger chain has been offering takeaways, having already closed its seated areas. "This is not a decision we are taking lightly, but one made with the well-being and safety of our employees in mind, as well as the best interests of our customers," McDonald’s said.

John Lewis is also shutting all of its 50 department stores "with a heavy heart", although its website and its Waitrose grocery shops will continue to trade. "The welfare of our customers, communities and partners is always our absolute priority," Sharon White, chair of John Lewis Partnership, said.

2.30pm: ITV halts production of Corrie, Emmerdale, Loose Women and Lorraine

The broadcaster is suspending production of the soaps from Monday as the virus outbreak worsens across the country. In a statement on Twitter, ITV said: "We’ve been doing our best to carry on filming, whilst adhering to the government’s latest health guidelines, to ensure we’ve episodes of both soaps airing on ITV until at least the early summer."

On Wednesday, Campaign reported that ITV was to reduce the frequency of Coronation Street and Emmerdale from 12 episodes a week to eight.

There will also no longer be any live shows from Loose Women and Lorriane from Monday. Good Morning Britain will run an hour later until 10am. At 9am, Lorraine Kelly will join Piers Morgan in the GMB studio for the last hour. The broadcaster plans to show repeat episodes of Loose Women

ITV said: "We have been reducing our crew numbers over the last week and these changes will enable us to reduce them further and help us build further resilience with the aim of daytime content continuing to air for as long as possible."

The broadcaster has been seeing a rise in daytime viewers as more people stay at home, reporting its strongest audience for a Wednesday since Christmas 2013.

2pm: Supermarkets support NHS staff

Asda, John Lewis & Partners, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Tesco are introducing support for NHS and social workers by offering them priority shopping. Many of the brands had already been offering particular shopping hours for the elderly and vulnerable people.

John Lewis & Partners will also donate items including pillows, phone chargers, eye masks and hand cream, as well as 50,000 Easter treats, to hospitals.

See the previous week's developments

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