THE POSTER BELOW aims to trigger fear. I asked a leading psychologist to tell me her reaction to the poster. This is what she said:
“It succeeds brilliantly, using a combination of psychological techniques proven to initiate your threat response.
At the top, our trusty NHS instructs you to “look him in the eyes”. You automatically track down to the accusatory eyes staring straight out at you. Your brain’s panic button – the amygdala – is activated, releasing stress hormones that prepare your body for ‘fight or flight’. Blood supply diverts from your ‘thinking brain’ – the prefrontal cortex – causing it to temporarily shut down.
Your threat system has been activated: by the frightening stare; by the authority of those promoting the message; by the stark, capitalised order. You are already primed to feel guilty in response to the next instruction: ‘Tell him you always keep your distance’. By now, your logical brain is less likely to ask: Do I know this man? Was I close to him? What is a ‘safe’ distance? Where is the evidence? Who tells us? Should I trust them more than I trust my own judgement?
The small, innocent name under the oxygen mask urges us not to ask questions. This is a real Covid-19 victim – you should know better. Shame on you. Underlining this message is the repetitive mantra: if we stay home we will save the NHS and save lives. The striped warning colours of the banner emphasise the emergency. In an emergency, you do not question the authority, the logic, or the evidence.
His face is seen by millions. Yet just one person gave him the virus (and statistically, the most likely source of transmission was a hospital or a care home).
This advert activates our already over-stimulated stress systems, making them ever more vulnerable to fear messaging. Sustained stress leads to physical and mental health damage: stroke, heart attack, cancer, suicide, OCD, depression.”
This is what our Government is doing. It has to stop.
For recovery’s campaign against fear go to: www.timeforrecovery.org/fear
Jon Dobinson, is a co-founder and Campaign Director of Recovery, and MD of award winning advertising agency Other. He is a former D&AD judge and Chair of the Creative Jury of the International Business Awards.
Recovery formed last October to campaign for the Five Reasonable Demands for good government during Covid-19, a moderate, balanced alternative to the Government’s damaging approach to Covid-19, which experts have warned will end up costing many more lives than it saves and the Government itself says has already cost the country as much as the entire Second World War.
An independent poll by Yonder in January found that the Five Reasonable Demands are supported by 77 per cent of the UK population with only 3 per cent opposed, as well as by many respected and high profile people in business, culture, media, politics, medicine and sport.