Government campaign to stress sneezing etiquette

The Department of Health has appointed The Red ­Consultancy to raise awareness of the importance of good hygiene in the face of a potential flu pandemic.

The brief, worth £143,000, will focus on spreading the department’s ‘Catch it, bin it, kill it’ slogan, which highlights the importance of using tissues to cover coughs and sneezes.

The Red team launched the campaign last week by hiring PR stunt group the Ministry of Fun to act as a ­giant sneezing nose in Trafalgar Square, to show how thousands of cold and flu particles are projected with just one sneeze. Around 5,000 packs of tissues and 20,000 stickers were given out on the day.

Department of Health press officer Anna Brosnan said that the campaign was a high priority because of the potential for a flu pandemic in addition to the usual seasonal flu. The virus kills around 12,000 people in the UK every year and affects up to 15 per cent of the population.

A five-strong team led by Red board director Emily Morgan is handling the account, which lasts until next June. Grayling and Forster also made the shortlist.

Morgan said: ‘We will be using medical experts to target media and we plan to stage more live­ partner-based activities, like the one at Trafalgar Square –  something to bring the message to life and give it impact.

‘But we are keen to avoid making the Department of Health appear to be a nanny state body.’

According to the department’s own research, ‘general attitudes and knowledge of effective coughing and sneezing etiquette are poor’.

In March, it relaunched its ‘Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases’ campaign – one of its first-ever public information campaigns.

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