There has to be a motive behind what's going on at the health ministry in Italy at the moment. Surely the infantile approach to its fertility day campaign is a joke that we haven't been let in on yet. Or perhaps it's a marketing technique designed to get everyone talking about them irrespective of the consequences. Perhaps it's a case of even bad publicity is good publicity when it comes to public health.
At the beginning of the month I posted about their horrible online campaign which due to the public backlash was over before it began. The one which likened women's bodies to being public incubators.
Well, the ministry and its "graphic design team" are back at it again, achieving a status that is more virus than viral.
This ad hit the Internet this week:
Let me break it down for you. It's from the new the right lifestyle campaign launched to 'combat infertility' and, um, 'sterility'.
The top image is accompanied by a message that translates as 'the right attitudes to promote.' In it we have a kind of German poster child aesthetic kicking in.
Then, we have the other image. The one accompanied by the warning that the people depicted are examples of the kind of bad friends/company that you should abandon and avoid in order to achieve the goal of remaining fertile.
The ad immediately hit a nerve, touching off a storm of debate relating to its implied racism and its reliance on stereotypes. It's all the more disturbing given that it was issued by an arm of the Italian government whose stated mission is the promotion of health and harmony.
I mean, I don't know about you, but I think I'd rather hang out in the haze of second hand smoke from the second group than be surrounded by churchy do gooders with those sitcom white teeth that will leave you instantly blinded if you look into them. They're like modern day Medusa heads, just with bad styling.
If all that wasn't bad enough, there was something fishy about the whole thing. The feeling that there was something not right about the images led people to do a bit of research on the web.
Savvy commentators - who availed themselves of a quick Google image search quickly worked out where they'd been sourced from.
Erm... Stock photos or blatant theft, no one is sure. But it's yet another strike against an agency that is completely out of step with Italians and is really making a mockery of itself, leading people to wonder: is it intentional?
At this point I might just start begging the ministry to look towards North Korea or China for inspiration. They should just delve into the propaganda archives and come up with a poster that at least has some kitsch or aesthetic appeal.
In the meantime, Italy has pulled off its fake at week so far this yet! Hurrah to fake values and outright plagiarism from government departments.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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