These Century-Old Spanish Flu Ads Are Freakishly Similar To COVID-19 Ones

Tina Garg
·3-min read

COVID-19 has disrupted world economies, the education sector, and whatnot. It has made us rethink our priorities and our lifestyle.

The governments and authorities worldwide are issuing safety guidelines so that its spread can be prevented. We see advertisements on different mediums such as newspapers, television, social media platforms, etc. Even our caller tune is not spared from this.

COVID-19 graphics
COVID-19 graphics

Amidst COVID-19, we were also reminded of the past pandemics that created havoc in their times. The most recent one is the Spanish flu that was widespread in 1918. It was a deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus.

Millions of people lost their lives worldwide. Battling it was the biggest challenge which was faced by the then governments. Just like COVID-19, the key to battling H1N1 was social isolation and preventive hygiene measures.

The infamous 1918 Influenza pandemic, which killed millions of people worldwide
The infamous 1918 Influenza pandemic, which killed millions of people worldwide

If you ever got curious as to what kind of advertisements were circulated among the public a century ago, then you are in for a treat. We dug up a few ads from the 1918 Spanish flu, and they are freakishly similar to the COVID-19 ones.

Advertisements From The 1918 Spanish Flu

From Illustrated Current News, 1918.
From Illustrated Current News, 1918.

Cover your mouth when you sneeze and cough”, “Stay at home if you have a cold”, “Avoid those that cough and sneeze”. The Spanish flu was also spread by coming in contact with an infected person, and hence these precautions were necessary to prevent it.

<span>From The Red Cross, 1918</span>
From The Red Cross, 1918

Masks are turning out to be the saviour in this pandemic, and they played the same role 102 years ago as well. This advert focuses on wearing masks, just like we are reminded every day to wear one before stepping out.

Read More: Coronavirus Interviews Record Holder Spanish Flu Virus In This Week’s Fake Friendly Friday

United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation, 1918
United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation, 1918

Spitting is equivalent to committing a serious crime in recent times, and this was the case in 1918 also. There are greater chances of the virus being spread through acts like sneezing, coughing, and spitting.

While the first two are involuntary, spitting is not. Hence, to prevent the spread, it was necessary to not spit in the open.

<span>A newspaper clip from 1918</span>
A newspaper clip from 1918

I am sure that in these six months, you must have made at least one mask by yourself or witnessed a close acquaintance doing so. Many people, including homemakers, even started the business of making and selling masks. The government advisory on how to make one safely helped in the process.

Similarly, guidelines on how to make a mask were released by the government during the influenza pandemic also.

<span>Rensselaer County Tuberculosis Association in New York in 1918</span>
Rensselaer County Tuberculosis Association in New York in 1918

Aren’t these lines similar to the ones that we hear and read every day? Freakishly similar, right?

But there is one difference. Back then, these Spanish flu ads were made primarily by keeping men in mind, not women.

Men considered wearing masks a feminine practice and were reluctant to use them. This is why male figures and cartoons were used in these advertisements.

The influenza pandemic ended because people followed these guidelines diligently and worked on the prevention of the spread of the virus. If we also want COVID-19 to end, then it is pivotal to take care of personal hygiene and follow the guidelines.

Image Credits: Google Images

Sources: Time, The Guardian, The Lancet

Find The Blogger: @TinaGarg18

This post is tagged under: influenza pandemic, COVID-19, coronavirus callertune, government guidelines for covid, Spanish flu 1918, global pandemic, history repeats itself, prevention of influenza, covid-19 guidelines, awareness against pandemic, government guidelines, advertisements, newspaper ads, how did government spread awareness about Spanish flu, similarities between 1918 Spanish flu and 2020 cOVID-19, role of lifebuoy soap in eliminating spanish flu

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