In a push to get as many Australians vaccinated as possible, Channel 9 rounded up its most famous faces for a TVC to encourage people to get the COVID-19 jab once it becomes available to them.
Hamish and Andy, Peter Overton, Erin Molan, Georgie Gardner, Liz Hayes, Scott Cam and Eddie McGuire can all be seen in the spot, as they explain how crucial it is for everyone to get the vaccine so that life can return to normal.
Almost immediately, people noted that there was a fairly obvious problem with the PSA — everyone in it is white.
Audiences quickly took to social media to express their dissent with one Twitter user calling the lack of diversity “staggering.”
One person sarcastically said: “Wow what a unique and inclusive cast you have. Thank goodness for the representation displayed here today.”
Another wrote, “Well-intentioned, but maybe not the best way to appeal to broader society? Out of 8 women featured, it’s not just that all are white (like all the men are also), but even within that subgroup it is so limited – 7 are blondes and @amyshark the only one that is even a brunette.”
Said another, “This ad will really hit the mark for some… but for others, it won’t at all simply because they won’t relate to it due to its lack of diversity. Hopefully, there is a part 2 on the way too.”
According to senior journalist, co-founder of Media Diversity Australia and author of How To Lose Friends And Influence White People — Antoinette Lattouf — the advertisement is problematic on three levels.
“Firstly, by only having white faces, and able bodies, it fails to connect with and speak to a very multicultural audience or the one in five people who live with a disability,” Lattouf told The Latch.
“Secondly, it’s obvious that Nine called on all of their ‘stars’ in comedy, reality tv, news and music for this ad and in doing so exposed themselves as being a network that overwhelmingly hones white talent.
“Thirdly, it baffles me the video made it to air. How many hands did it pass through? From the on-air talent, the producers, social media team and public relations team. How didn’t anyone realise how blindingly white and out of touch the ad is?”
In response to the criticism, Michael Healy, 9Network’s Director of Television said “As we are in the midst of a global pandemic, 9Network is continuing to support community awareness regarding COVID and to be informed about the vaccination, this is our shot for Australia to be connected again.
“It is an internal initiative and there will be a number of promos rolled out during this campaign”.
Said Lattouf, “The statement from Nine’s director of TV really just made things worse. What an absolute waste of opportunity to reflect, apologise and do better. It speaks to a mentality that is stuck in the 20th century and refuses to catch up to the needs of its modern television audience.”
Lattouf noted the ad is particularly disappointing, given the struggles to date, and noted importance of clearly communicating COVID information to minority communities.
“We know through experience and research that culturally diverse communities are more likely to be reluctant to get the vaccine and have struggled to understand all the health messages,” she said.
“I have no doubt the folks at Nine were trying to do a good thing, yet this is what happens when a network only hires inner-city middle-class white people. They lose touch with reality.”
At the end of the day, of course, it is imperative for as many Aussies as possible to get the COVID jab. But, surely, it is equally important for the calls to action for this to be as representative as possible of the very people we are trying to protect.