Coughs and sneezes spread diseases

May 15, 2020

This post is brought to you in the clipped tones of a 1940s BBC continuity announcer.

This is a time when men were men, where eggs is eggs and there’s a place for everything and everything in its place.

You can tell this by our public health posters, some of which you can see below:


Compare this to the post of the future, May 2020, when Britain urges it citizens to ‘stay alert’ due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

We think they’re harking back to the popular inscription ‘Keep calm and carry on’. A phrase that in 2020 adorns the tea towels, mugs and coasters of homes throughout the land.

But is it clear enough for the modern people of Great Britain to comprehend? Will they be confused and make grave errors when exchanging pleasantries with one another, and shopping for provisions?

We think the below may be more helpful:


The reason we think this is because it includes directness, simplicity and what marketers in 2020 will refer to as ‘specificity’, but which is what we like to think of as ‘the Lord Kitchener effect’.

This of course refers to the popular war enlisting poster of 1914, in which Kitchener told us the country needed us. The emphasis on ‘you’ made the message personal and created a sense of obligation that was difficult to ignore without feeling terribly guilty.

It also features a ‘social nudge’ in the reference to work colleagues – adding a further sense of realism and obligation.

If you want to persuade someone of something, we recommended you apply the same thinking. Whether you’re encouraging people to book a telephone call with you, inviting them to read an important pamphlet, or learn about what it is that you do, use ‘you’ as opposed to ‘people’ or ‘clients’ and consider referring to others also.

Better to call a spade a spade than pussyfoot around, wouldn’t you say?

Toodle-pip old chum.

May 15, 2020

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