My new column for the Visual Thesaurus looks at slogans for public-health campaigns. Their use (or misuse) has played an important in role during the COVID-19 pandemic (“Stay Home/Save Lives,” “We’re All in This Together,” “Six Feet Apart or Six Feet Under”), and, arguably, an even larger role in past public-health crises such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
Full access to the column is restricted to subscribers. Here’s an excerpt:
Rhyme is a proven mnemonic device — for examples, see my column on ads that rhyme — and one of the most durable public-health slogans was a short verse: “Coughs and sneezes spread diseases.” It was first used in the United States during the 1918–1920 influenza pandemic.
But it was in the UK, where it was popularized during World War II, that the slogan became … well, infectious. Cartoons by H.M. Bateman leavened the message without diminishing the warning.
The slogan was also used in short public-service films, first by the Ministry of Health and, after the war, by the National Health Service. Decades later, the World Health Organization included it in a short animated film. And the slogan returned to the US in a 1986 episode of the “Thomas the Tank Engine” children's television show, in which two characters mishear “diesel” as “diseasel” and insist that “coughs and sneezles spread diseasels.”
Read the rest of “Slogans for Health.”
Blog bonus #1: Listen to Bob L’Heureux and the All Mighty Cowboys singing “The C-19 Blues,” with the refrain: “Six feet apart or six feet under.”
Blog bonus #2: Watch Remedy PAC’s “29 Days: America’s Lost Month,” whose slogan/hashtag, #VoteForYourLife, links the COVID-19 pandemic with the November US election.