No, we are not at war with COVID-19

Opinion: Invoking the blitz spirit works better for politicians than for businesses, says the CEO of MullenLowe Group UK.

by Jeremy Hine

As the outbreak of COVID-19 in the UK has worsened, we’ve seen more and more public figures and business leaders using wartime metaphors, images and language to convey the importance and urgency of the situation. This is a noticeable change from the tone at the beginning of the crisis, which was more upbeat. 

Before he was hospitalised, Boris Johnson in particular dialled up his rhetoric, casting coronavirus as the enemy and calling on the ‘blitz spirit’ to get us through this difficult time. If used wisely and with the right intent, this approach could prove to be a positive motivational tool.  

But is it an approach appropriate for those with a different objective, i.e. corporate leaders, businesses or even their brands? In its update to the market, Marks & Spencer reminded customers that it “has served customers without cease through two world wars [and] terrorist bombings and we are determined to support customers now."

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