Ministers struck a deal worth up to £119m with one of the world’s biggest marketing companies for a Covid campaign three weeks before the country went into a national lockdown, official filings show.
The Cabinet Office signed the contract with London-based OMD Group, a subsidiary of US ad titan Omnicom, on March 2 – the same day Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended his first pandemic-related Cobra meeting – as the Government began to gear up its response to the crisis.
Although the UK did not go into lockdown until March 23, the outline of its communications strategy appears to have been agreed weeks in advance.
The agreement referred to three “tiers” of messaging that the Government wanted to get across to the public, including telling people to “Stay Home, Stay Safe”, reminding them to wash their hands regularly and promoting healthy lifestyle habits during periods of isolation.
It also referenced marketing campaigns to communicate emergency economic measures….