Labour is urging UK PR and advertising agencies to help persuade consumers to stop panic-buying, while using the call to deliver a sideswipe to the Conservative government.
The party has pointed out that while the Tory leadership splurged £46m on a "Get ready for Brexit" campaign – widely regarded as fatuous – it has done little to combat stockpiling behaviour.
With "panic-buying causing real harm to vulnerable groups and creating anxiety amongst us all", Labour said it was calling for "a mobilisation of advertising and PR agencies to create new TV adverts, newspaper, digital and billboard advertising" around the issue.
The party also called on advertisers to divert budget from typical brand-led messaging and instead spend it on coronavirus communications.
Agencies and brand owners that want to contribute can share designs "freely and without copyright, but with attribution" on social media using the hashtags #covid19advert and #dontshoptillyoudrop.
Luke Pollard, Labour’s shadow environment, food and rural affairs secretary, said: "Those who specialise in persuading us to buy products now have the opportunity to save lives with their work. Please step up and help. We need people to do the right thing at this time of national crisis: shop sensibly, stay at home and slow the spread of the virus."
Shadow culture secretary Tracy Brabin lauded the UK’s creative industry as the finest in the world. "As the numbers of people confirmed with the virus continue to rise, Labour has today issued a ‘pitch’ to advertising agencies calling for a national mobilisation on a pro-bono basis to design the campaigns that will help slow the spread and encourage people to stay home and shop sensibly," she said.
"Staying a safe distance from other people and avoiding contact in public spaces are also measures which will stop the chains of transmission."
Panic-buying has led to empty shelves at supermarkets. But retailers have more recently been responding by introducing rationing on certain products. Asda, for example, is only allowing shoppers to buy three of a particular product.
A version of this article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign