Recent rise in COVID-19, so Manitoba is reworking its six-figure ad campaign

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WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s COVID-19 numbers were once the envy of most other provinces, but there have been several outbreaks in recent weeks and the government must change its advertising campaign to six figures. The campaign, once focused on economic recovery, is focusing more on health precautions.

At one point in July, Manitoba had flattened its infection curve so much that there was only one known active case. This contrasted sharply with all the other provinces west of New Brunswick.

Winnipeg has offered to be the site for a shortened Canadian Football League season (which never happened) and the government launched ads on billboards, social media and elsewhere with the message: “Ready. Sure. Grow.

The ads, with an estimated budget of $ 425,000 this year, directed people to a website with health information, but largely focused on what companies could do to land new contracts and gain access to health care. support programs.

The landscape changed when clusters of COVID-19 erupted in Winnipeg, Brandon and a few Hutterite settlements. Manitoba had as many as 418 active cases as of Friday.

While some physical billboards have yet to change, electronic billboards have been swapped in recent days to feature a new ‘Know The Facts’ slogan, as well as images of recently adopted color codes – red, orange, yellow and green – to indicate different levels of restrictions that may be imposed if the number of cases increases.

Most of the province is under code yellow, with some restrictions. But the Prairie Mountain Health Region recently moved to Orange status, which places stricter limits on public gatherings and requires masks to be worn in public places. Some billboards in the area now have a large orange symbol and the word “restricted”.

The ads continue to point to the government’s economic programs webpage, but the page begins with an explanation of the color codes and restrictions in place.

When the campaign began, opposition New Democrats said it ignored health concerns and was a premature taxpayer-funded victory lap for the Progressive Conservative government of the first Minister Brian Pallister. Even the revamped version uses money that could be better spent elsewhere, the NDP suggested.

“The Prime Minister does not understand. Spending… money on billboards does nothing to make schools safe, protect workers or help businesses stay open, ”NDP MP Mark Wasyliw said in a written statement on Friday.

The government claims that billboards serve an important purpose and are adaptable to changing circumstances.

“The campaign was designed to be flexible. Digital billboards, social media advertising and other elements of the campaign will be able to adapt as the situation in the province evolves, ”wrote Blake Robert, government media relations director, in an email.

“With the change to the restricted level in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, for example, digital billboards and online advertising have been altered to highlight the pandemic response system. ”

The ad campaign also includes radio ads featuring the voice of the Director of Public Health, Dr. Brent Roussin. Advertisements remind people to take precautions such as washing their hands and keeping two meters from others.

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