Our Managing Director Kim Somerville writes about how Magpie has co-created a new covid explained campaign working with communities across Yorkshire and the Humber. 



Information about COVID-19 is being made simpler and more accessible in Yorkshire and the Humber as we launch a new campaign today to cut through the confusion ready for the winter. 

Co-created campaign 

Covid Explained helps people across the region to live and work during the  COVID-19 pandemic. We have co-created this with communities from 15 local authorities across the region who said people living in their areas needed facts, guidelines, and real people’s stories, broken down into easy-to-read advice and has been translated into 12 languages. 

Partnership working 

Magpie was appointed as the creative behaviour change agency to lead the behavioural strategy, production and coordination of the campaign, and we are working with a network of campaign partners across Yorkshire and the Humber to get the messaging directly into communities. These partners include Forward & Thinking on media buying and planning and Stephen Garnett on photography who is helping us capture the lived experiences of people across the region. 

McConnells are coordinating ad vans and booklets targeted to households most in need of this information.  These booklets have links to audio translations created by My Language Connection and a video in British Sign Language made by Reflect BSL for those who find that easier to use than the booklet. Videos throughout the campaign will feature experiences of people from across the region made by Fat Panda and an advertising campaign will run across digital and outdoor media over coming months. 

Lived experiences 

Commenting on behalf of Yorkshire & the Humber’s Directors of Public Health,  Julia Weldon, Public Health Director in Hull said:

“As the virus has evolved, so has the need for down to earth, communication with all of our communities.  This new campaign will be right in the heart of local places to deliver information directly to people who want and need it most. We are grateful to everyone who has shared their stories of having COVID-19, getting vaccinated, testing and self-isolation, which will inspire and support others with their decisions too.”

Open resource – campaign pack 

Where the campaign truly comes to life is how it is amplified by the partners including local authorities, NHS, third sector and other community groups. Campaign materials are available to download from the Stakeholders Hub – these include social media graphics, animations and ideas for social media posts for you to use. It is password protected but is an open resource for anyone in Yorkshire and the Humber working on COVID-19. Please contact our stakeholder lead Tom Salmon be added to our mailing list and receive the password to access the hub. 

Grounded in behavioural insights 

Dr Grainne Dickerson, Director of Behavioural Insights at Magpie commented:

“This is a unique campaign grounded in behavioural science, and guided by data, insight and local knowledge to support each Local Authority in Yorkshire and the Humber with their COVID-19 communications. Covid explained will fit with their people and their place, focusing on the three behaviours that can have the biggest impact on COVID-19 transmission. These being: keeping up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, getting tested when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or when identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and self-isolating when required.”

Our processes are built on the principles of agile marketing, enabling the campaign to flex and adapt to the local and national picture. The campaign will be adaptable responding to new variants, public behaviour requirements and changing guidance. 

Overcoming digital and literacy barriers

Rose Mountague, Creative Director at Magpie comments on bringing real stories to life:

“The campaign packages up covid information in a simple, attractive, digestible and easy to read format. We aim to overcome digital and literacy barriers translating information into the first language of our target groups. Supplying this in audio, written and video format has been a real privilege, enabling us to take COVID information to the people who need it the most. We hope for it to compete with misinformation by being highly visible, available and accessible as a community based approach. 

One person to feature in the campaign is Julie from East Marsh, Grimsby. She shares her experience of getting vaccinated and says:

“Having the vaccine was really straightforward and quick, and I didn’t get any problematic side effects.  All was good except for a heavy arm for a few days and feeling flu-like symptoms for 24 hours.”

Vaccinations are offered to everyone over the age of 12 and are free in the UK. Everyone above the age of 12 should have at least two doses to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Armanji, from Harehills, Leeds who also features in the campaign and told us:

“Some people bounce back from COVID-19 after a few days, but it took me more than 10 days to even start feeling better.  I was tired, cold and shivery with pain all down my body.  Having no taste or smell was not fun, I couldn’t enjoy my food and I had to close my business for two weeks and stay at home.”

Staying at home and self-isolating for 10 days is the most effective way to stop the spread of COVID-19 as people normally aren’t infectious by then. People on a low income may qualify for a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment via your local councils. 

It is an absolute honour for Magpie to be overseeing this work and helping to create healthier and happier communities where our work is needed the most, I’d urge anyone working, volunteering or simply living in Yorkshire and the Humber to support the campaign by sharing the website www.covidexplained.com and campaign materials. 

Campaign Consultant Louise Hallworth, who is managing the campaign, echos my feeling about the importance of the campaign:

We feel very grateful to have been given the responsibility to produce this campaign alongside so many stakeholders across the region, with so many changing messages we hope to keep things simple and change behaviour enough to protect the people we care for across Yorkshire and the Humber.” 

Get involved

The campaign is looking for people to share their Covid experiences and feature in the campaign or offer support in sharing information to groups, organisations and communities.  Visit www.covidexplained.com/about or contact Louise for more information.

Covid explained was commissioned by PHE (Public Health England) on behalf of the Department for Health and Social Care with input and insight from the 15 local authorities across Yorkshire and the Humber. All COVID-19 information has been sourced from gov.uk and nhs.uk. 

If you’d like to talk more about our creative behaviour change approach and our great campaign to create healthier and happier communities please drop me a line

Thanks for reading and stay safe.