Hotspot tourists targeted by virus ads safety message

The children's area at Latitude was full of fun for all the family. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The new targeted messages were used to reach Latitude festival goers - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Targeted online adverts for those within a mile of Suffolk’s tourism hotspots are being used to encourage people to be kind and responsible this summer while the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

Suffolk County Council has confirmed that it has launched a new campaign since the easing of restrictions on July 19 called ‘add kindness’ encouraging people to still wear masks or socially distance in busy places, and have an awareness of those around them.

The council is utilising geofencing – a location-based technique in digital advertising to target people in a specific place.

It means that visitors and tourists checking their social media platforms while they are within a mile of key tourist areas will see the adverts.

Communications chiefs at the council said it would help reach people in particular visiting from outside the county who may not be aware of the existing messages in the county.

“We have launched a new campaign under the umbrella of ‘jab, test, protect the rest’ and this new campaign is called ‘add kindness’,” communications manager Kate Dodd told last week’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting of council, police and health bosses.

“It basically launched after the restrictions eased on July 19 and encourages people to get out and about and live relatively normal this summer, but with added caution, consideration and kindness for those around us.

Matthew Hicks

Outbreak board chairman Matthew Hicks said the idea was "innovative" - Credit: Gregg Brown

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“For example, wearing a mask or keeping our distance where places are particularly busy, or we feel safer, or we feel appropriate. It’s calling on people’s better judgement and social responsibility – we are asking people to just add kindness to their actions this summer.

“It targets Suffolk residents, day trippers and tourists, and a lot of the work is centred online. This is where we reach the majority of people in the quickest amount of time, and if you are outside Suffolk the chances are you won’t read our newspapers or see our marketing material.

“One of the things we have launched is called geofencing. This is where you will see these adverts on Facebook and Instagram, and if you are within one mile of tourist hotspots or attractions, you will see a Covid advert pop up on your feed.

“For example, if you are a mile within Framlingham Castle, Sutton Hoo or some of our beaches you will see the advert.

“It just means through those hotspots we can really target those people and really encourage them to think twice about their actions.”

The team has also utilised the measures for targeting events, such as Latitude Festival at Henham Park – where it got 40,000 impressions (the number of times the advert was displayed on social media feeds) – as well as Olly Murs at Newmarket last weekend.

The campaign ‘jab, test, protect the rest’ is also continuing which aims to encourage people to take up the vaccine offer and continue taking twice weekly tests to ensure they do not spread the infection.

Suffolk County Council leader and outbreak board chairman Matthew Hicks said: “I do think that is being really innovative to take that sort of approach with these targeting messages around our tourist sites and other locations.

“We do get adverts on our phones that pop up when you look at it, so why not have one on this. I think that is a really great idea.”