COVID vaccine ads something from a ‘communist government committee’, says ABC presenter

The ABC’s producer and broadcaster, Dr Norman Swan, has compared the Federal Government’s $24 million COVID-19 vaccine immunisation campaign to something produced by a “communist government committee”.

Speaking on his daily podcast, Coronacast, Dr Swan said the style of advertisements chosen by the government were failing to produce the desired outcome and were “not enough”.

“We’ve got some of the best advertising creatives in the world in Australia, and we could produce, if we unleashed them, they could produce some amazing creative, rather than something that looks as if it’s been created by a communist government committee,” said Dr Swan.

Neighbouring nations, New Zealand and Singapore have chosen to channel humour, and creativity, with quirky songs and everyday people to get the message about vaccination across. Speaking of those campaigns, Dr Swan said: “I think it is better than having one of the government doctors with a stethoscope around their neck having the immunisation.

The Australian vaccination ads have used a sombre tone, medical professionals, and cartoon drawings in stark contrast to the Singapore and New Zealand approach.


A spokesperson for the Department of Health issued this statement on the campaign to Mumbrella: “Each phase of the campaign is informed by consumer research to ensure it is delivering the messages Australians are seeking to support uptake of the program.

“New advertisements started this month to align with the expansion of the program, informing people aged 50 years and over that they can now receive the vaccine.

“Other elements of the campaign have addressed particular issues such as the safety of the vaccines, the process for their approval in Australia and the different priority groups being vaccinated.

“The campaign will further evolve as required as other groups become eligible and a different type or style of messaging is required.”

The department declined to identify which agency, if any, had prepared the campaign or what the brief had been. Universal McCann provides the media buying for the Australian Government.

The medical profession has joined the call for a more effective communications strategy to convince people to get COVID-19 vaccines.

Professor Julie Leask, of Sydney University’s school of nursing and midwifery told The New Daily that Australia should follow Singapore or New Zealand in creating colourful song-and-dance ads with celebrities to encourage taking the shot.

“That’s what my colleagues and I think we need now,” she said.

AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, told ABC earlier in the week that a date for borders reopening would give Australians the motivation needed to go out and get the vaccine.

“Whereas if it’s some indeterminate point in the future when everyone’s vaccinated, it really doesn’t give that vaccination program the push it needs to make sure it’s complete.”

Just over 3.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have now been administered across the country. Australia has a population of close to 26 million.


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