Insensitive or powerful? Confronting new Covid-19 ad sparks outrage

Jul 12, 2021
The new ad is targeted at Sydneysiders. Source: Josh Butler/Twitter

A confronting new Covid-19 advertisement warning about the dangers of the virus has sparked outrage among Aussies. The 30-second clip, which shows a young woman in distress, has been labelled as “too much”, “appalling” and “disgraceful”.

The government video targeting Sydneysiders shows a terrified young woman struggling to breathe on a ventilator. The video then flicks to a black screen, which reads: “Covid-19 can affect anyone. Stay home. Get tested. Book your vaccination.”

The advertisement, which was released the same day New South Wales recorded 77 new cases, and one death, is already copping severe backlash online. Adjunct Professor Bill Bowtell took to Twitter on Sunday afternoon to call for the ad to be cut.

“This ad should be immediately taken off air,” Bowtell wrote. “Today in Sydney a young girl with Covid — about the same age as the actor in the ad – is on a ventilator fighting for her life. This insensitive ad can only distress her family and friends. It is misconceived in every way.”

Government backbencher George Christensen echoed Bowtell’s calls, saying: “This ad is all sorts of wrong,” he wrote on Facebook. “More than 93 per cent of people who have died with Covid-19 deaths in Australia have been 70 over. Over 76 per cent have been over 80. In fact more than one third have been over the age of 90. And yet the ad, with a young woman gasping for breath on a ventilator, makes the claim that ‘Covid-19 can affect anyone’.

“It’s bad enough the mainstream media is running pandemic fear porn on a nightly basis, we don’t need taxpayers funding it as well. I am disgusted the Australian Government has put its name to this.”

However, a cardiologist in Sydney, where there’s now more than 500 local cases, has applauded the government’s efforts, saying while the video is quite confronting, it’s sending out an important message. “Graphic indeed, but people need to be jolted out of the vaccine hesitancy,” Yadu Singh tweeted.

Aussies have also weighed in on the topic, with the majority slamming the controversial ad. Twitter user @bella1203 commented: “Disgraceful that they gaslight Sydney’s population in this way. The virus has spread due to the State and Federal mismanagement.”

While @TThetabbycat wrote: “It is appalling, v misjudged, given a big thing in many people’s minds is the frustration and worry that they can’t get access to a vaccination!”

And @blue_katniss tweeted: “It’s too much. It’s one extreme to the other. We have arms in one ad, then someone gasping for life in the next. The LNP can’t get it right. They can’t get anything right.”

Following yesterday’s numbers, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she expected many more cases over the coming days. Greater Sydney and several other government areas are currently in lockdown until Friday, however if cases keep rising it could be extended again.

“I’m anticipating the numbers in New South Wales will be greater than 100 tomorrow,” she said Sunday morning. “I’ll be shocked if it’s less than 100 this time tomorrow.”

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