Aussie govt defends ‘terrifying’ and ‘graphic’ Covid ad

Social media users have said the ad is being used as a ‘scare tactic’ and could deter young people from getting vaccinated.

Aussie govt defends ‘terrifying’ and ‘graphic’ Covid ad

A new ad released by the Australian government has sparked a backlash in Sydney where the ad is being screened amid a lockdown due to an outbreak of the Delta variant.

The film begins with a warning that viewer discretion is advised and that some people could find it distressing. It then depicts an actor who is seen desperately gasping for air on a ventilator for about 20 seconds; the scene is said to be a representation of Covid illness.

The ad is part of the government’s national AU$41 million (US$30 million) vaccine-awareness campaign called ‘Arm Yourself’ which launched yesterday. 

Many on social media as well as health professionals asked for the ad to be removed off air owing to its sensitive and graphic visuals. Many also criticised the ad for using a young actor, which inaccurately reflects vaccine hesitancy in those above 55. Plus, those below 40 in Australia have yet to have access to vaccines as new they await new Pfizer stock. 

Chief medical officer Paul Kelly said in a press conference: "We are only doing this because of the situation in Sydney and it will be running in Sydney. It is quite graphic and it is meant to be graphic—it is meant to really push that message home."


The ‘Arm Yourself’ campaign also includes a series of explainer videos, posters, audio and other materials. While inoffensive, many complained that the overall campaign was ‘boring’ and ‘unemotional’, especially when compared to Singapore’s Phua Chu Kang musical medley as well as New Zealand’s humorous video.

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