Magda Szubanski’s Sharon Strzelecki appears in controversial COVID-19 campaign from Victorian Government

Magda Szubanski has reprised her role as Sharon Strzelecki from television series Kath & Kim for the first in a series of new public service advertisements from the Victorian Government. The work focuses on coronavirus precautions, including wearing a mask outside of the home.

The ad, which has already garnered a mixed reaction from the community, kicks off with Strzelecki playing netball alone and arguing with herself, before reminding Victorians that stage four lockdown ‘is not the enemy, it’s the virus’.

Premier Daniel Andrews has attributed the idea of the campaign to former ABC Radio Melbourne host Jon Faine, who has been promoting the ads on social media. He told a press conference that Faine suggested: “…we use some really well-known Victorians, a bit of humour.”

The campaign will also star Shane Jacobson, AFLW star and boxer Tayla Harris, host of Ten’s The Project Waleed Aly with comedian Nazeem Hussain, and Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne with her brother Stevie Payne in upcoming work. There will be eight ads in the first series.

In Jacobson’s ad, he revives a slogan from the Commonwealth Department of Health, Housing and Community Services’ 1991 sexual health advertisement, ‘If it’s not on, it’s not on’, instead referring to face masks.

The campaign has already attracted criticism online, labelling it ‘condescending’, ‘cutesy’, and ‘confusing’ as it infers Victorians have not been following the stage four lockdown restrictions.

Victorian MP for Brighton, James Newbery, came to the defence of Szubanski, instead directing anger and blame at Andrews for writing a ‘condescending script’. Szubanski replied to Newbery that she was responsible for the script used in the ad she stars in, with a debate ensuing.

Szubanski and Newbury’s exchange on Twitter (Click to enlarge)

Szubanski has said her involvement in the campaign is not about politics but instead conveying a science-based public health message to all Victorians.

Andrews’ official comment to the media on the campaign said: “The truth is that even with case numbers coming down, without a vaccine, this isn’t over. But with small, simple steps we can keep ourselves and each other safe – now and into the future.”

“Keeping a hold on this wickedly infectious virus will take all of our efforts. But I know Victorians are tough – and we will get through this together.”

Szubanski previously performed as Strzelecki in last year’s rendition of Uber Eats’ ‘Tonight I’ll be eating’ campaign, alongside Kim Kardashian. Jacobson has appeared in ads for supermarket brand IGA.


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