iStock research reveals UK public divided on wanting to see mask wearing and social distancing in media and brand communications

July 19, 2021 • Company News

One third of Brits would like to see people wearing masks and 83% say it would be preferable to see people social distancing

iStock, a leader in affordable visual communications for the creative, entrepreneurial, student and SMB communities, has today released new research which shows that the UK public are divided on whether or not they want to see COVID safety measures reflected within media, advertising and business communications.

The research found that one third (33%) of Brits would like to see people wearing masks in visual communications. Whereas almost half of Brits wouldn’t mind and 27% are against seeing people wearing masks in media and branded visual communications. It’s a much clearer picture when thinking about images which show activities such as dining or socialising taking place outside, with the majority of people in the UK 91% saying this would be preferable.

Opinion is also more supportive of imagery which shows people practicing social distancing, with the majority (83%) saying it would be good to see this represented. But opinion flips when thinking about images that show life before the pandemic, with most (85%) in favour of seeing these types of images. The findings are largely consistent across generation and gender.

Jacqueline Bourke, Head of Creative Insights EMEA for iStock, commented: “Our Visual GPS research tells us that while people will be relieved to have restrictions lifting, many are still concerned about safety and social distancing and want to see that represented in visual communications. What that means for advertisers and businesses is that they need to carefully balance the present and future with a multi-layered visual strategy which is respectful and inclusive of all audiences.” 

The research on the UK’s attitude towards reflecting COVID safety measures in visual communications was conducted by iStock in partnership with global research company MarketCast, for iStock’s inhouse insights platform Visual GPS. It aims to understand consumer sentiment as the UK lifts the majority of restrictions, in order to offer guidance to the UK’s creative, entrepreneurial and SMB communities on how to best engage consumers with appropriate visuals.

Key takeaways for marketing after 19th July:

  • Consider multi-layered approach – In order to appeal to a broad audience focus on showing visuals which depict COVID measures such as social distancing and tell stories of security but also think about the future and use visuals and messaging which look beyond the pandemic.
  • Show a range of scenarios – The data shows that some visual icons of COVID are more divisive than others, so opt for a range of visuals which depict scenarios with different COVID measures to maintain a broad visual appeal.
  • Reflect the diversity of your audience – iStock research shows that 66% of Brits expect businesses to celebrate diversity of all kinds so ensure you are choosing visuals which reflect the broad diversity of the UK public across ethnic background, age, ability, religion, gender and sexual orientation.

See here for some examples of visuals that will appeal to a broad audience.

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