Waitrose and ITV have joined forces to launch a new, warts-and-all advertising campaign urging members of the public to join the ‘Pick for Britain’ initiative.

The partnership, which includes primetime TV adverts, will encourage Brits to rise to the challenge of farm work and drive potential applicants to the Pick for Britain website, where they can search for local vacancies.

But those behind it say it will not glamorise strenuous manual labour. In fact, the 40-second advert is so honest it even includes the line: “Pick fruit, pick veg, pick tired limbs and aching muscles”.

The campaign aims to recruit 70,000 new pickers and comes amid fears coronavirus restrictions will prevent much of the usual harvest workforce returning, leaving the nation’s fresh supply of fruit and vegetables unpicked.

Waitrose will support the TV campaign by placing ads across national print and digital outlets, with targeted content also being created for key social media platforms to raise awareness amongst students, graduates and younger people looking for long term contracts over the summer and beyond.

In addition, later in the year, ITV will broadcast a special film following the journey of several people who have volunteered to be a part of the new land army.

Pick for Britain was launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, supported by organisations such as the National Farmers Union, amidst fears of a potential labour shortage on farms over the harvest period, jeopardising the livelihoods of many British farmers and producers.

Simon Daglish, deputy managing director, ITV Commercial, said: “The Waitrose partnership is one of numerous ways in which brands are coming together to drive public awareness of the challenges everyone is facing throughout this pandemic.

“This ad campaign will shine a light on the invaluable work carried out by farmers throughout Britain and we’re hopeful it will help to bridge the labour shortfall.”

Rupert Thomas, director of trading at Waitrose, said: “We source so much homegrown produce during the UK season, that we absolutely need to ensure it’s picked, but it’s also vital for the livelihoods of UK farmers and growers across the industry that the country’s fruit and vegetables aren’t left to rot.

While the ad will leave viewers with no illusion that the job of a picker is easy – we hope it will capture the imagination and encourage people to do something extraordinary that’s for the good of the nation.

NFU vice-president Tom Bradshaw said: “This year there will be thousands of vacancies opening up on farms across the country to help farmers get iconic British produce from field to plate.

“From British strawberries being picked in early June all the way through to apples being harvested in the Autumn, the importance of workers to pick, pack and grade fruit and veg cannot be understated.

“We have been working closely with the government who have launched the Pick for Britain website and I would encourage anyone who is interested in helping pick for Britain throughout this summer to visit the site and see what jobs are out there.”