Agencies busy on getting Covid-19 messages out

As HSE’s media agency, Spark Foundry has had a major focus on the Covid-19 coronavirus campaign in recent weeks in a bid to reassure Irish people feeling a little helpless about what they can do. As the agency’s deputy MD Helen O’Rourke says, events and campaigns like this do not come around very often, sometimes just once in a career.

“We’re putting everything we possibly can into making it a success,” O’Rourke said. “Our regular day to day ways of working have gone out the window slightly – it’s crucial that the HSE communications team can contact us at any time, as messaging and our plans can change daily. Whatsapp and Slack have helped us keep track of everything.”

O’Rourke said Spark, Core and the HSE have been overwhelmed with the response they have received from Irish media owners. From producing copy, to out of hours calls/mails and texts to providing major discounts or indeed, completely free inventory. “I certainly haven’t experienced anything like it in my career, “she added.

“RTE produced a TV ad for the HSE and TG4 translated it into Irish, all over the space of a weekend!” Not easy at the best of time but this was when offices were first closing and we were all working remotely. We’ll happily take any offers of free space and would ask media owners to get in touch with any offers, however modest.

“Clients within Core and without have stepped up as well, offering the production of TV, radio and social ads and their ad space. This is incredibly generous at a time of uncertainty for so many businesses. It’s led to Spark working with other media agencies, sharing plans and information and collaborating for a common cause,” O’Rourke added.

Creative agencies have played a big part as well, not least TBWA\Dublin. There is no avoiding news reports about Covid-19 or coronavirus and TBWA’s work includes a changing suite of radio, TV and AV, out of home, digital and print ads. The most recent ad to go live is a 30-second TV commercial raising awareness of the signs people need to know.

Time was of the essence in completing the video, while also ensuring the visuals and script could land the message effectively. Together with Piranha Bar and Raygun, the animation and audio elements were turned around in just a week, with all the work completed remotely.

The HSE also had to switch on a recruitment drive for additional medical and admin staff to support frontline workers. ‘Be On Call for Ireland’, developed by BBDO Dublin, was turned around in a day and resulted in a staggering 60,000 registrations.

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