U.K. Government Launches Campaign to Alleviate Swine-Flu Concerns

Q&A in National Papers Will Address Questions, Fears About Virus

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- The virulence of the swine-flu pandemic is forcing the U.K. government to refocus its marketing effort from prevention toward alleviating public unease about catching the virus.

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The U.K. government's swine flu campaign is from DDB, London.

Only Mexico and the U.S. have registered more cases of swine flu than the U.K., where it has affected more people than in the rest of Europe combined. About 65% of cases registered with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control this week were from the U.K.

To address concerns, later this week the government is launching a major print campaign from DDB, London, across double-page spreads in national newspapers. A question-and-answer format aims to address fears about the virus and help to clear up the confusion and panic that is building as the death toll rises.

A swine-flu help line -- the National Pandemic Flu Service -- has also been launched to allow sufferers to self-diagnose and request Tamiflu antiviral medication, as well as to take the pressure off doctors.

The existing government campaign, which has been running since April, is an updated version of a generic health message about flu -- "Catch it, bin it, kill it" -- encouraging hygiene through the use of and disposal of tissues, followed by thorough hand washing.

But now that swine flu has taken hold in the U.K., it has become necessary to create a campaign that specifically addresses the current pandemic. The Q&A will also give advice to sufferers and special guidance for pregnant women.

Insurance companies are bracing themselves for a raft of claims from people who have to cancel their holidays due to the illness, retailers are claiming that swine flu is affecting sales and some churches have stopped offering communion wine in an attempt to halt the spread of the flu.

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