GetUp pulls ‘incredibly insensitive’ ad featuring ‘Tony Abbott’ watching someone drown

Activist group GetUp has been forced to admit an ad featuring a Tony Abbott lookalike watching on as someone drowns is “incredibly insensitive”.

The ad was due to begin airing in cinemas next week, but attracted criticism from the Royal Lifesavers group, particularly in light of tragic drownings over the Easter break.

The Abbott in the commercial is seen eating an onion on a beach chair, and holding a chunk of coal. When asked in the advertisement to assist with a drowning swimmer, he responded “I think you’ll find the science isn’t settled on that”.

The Abbott character also says “Why should we act first? I think I’ve given you the answer you deserve.”

The actual Abbott is a volunteer surf lifesaver, and faces stiff competition from independent Zali Steggall come the federal election on 18 May. GetUp frequently criticises him, and the Liberal National Coalition, for not doing enough on climate change.

GetUp has now conceded, however, it needed to take a more literal approach to the problem.

“We will be replacing it [the Abbott ad] with a more literal ad concept featuring the footage of Tony Abbott laughing along with Peter Dutton about ‘water lapping at [the] door’ of the Pacific Islands due to rising sea levels,” the GetUp statement said.

The replacement ad: 

GetUp said its intention with the ad was to focus on Abbott’s “callous inaction on climate change, at a time when the World Health Organisation warns the annual death toll from climate change will reach 250,000 a year”.

The group said its new ad will better accomplish that goal, however did offer an apology for the timing of its satirical ad.

“We have the greatest respect for Australia’s lifesavers and apologise for the insensitivity of the timing and subject matter of the planned ad.”


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