The West Australian, June 1, 2021
Channel Nine’s attempt to encourage Australians to roll up their sleeves and get the coronavirus vaccine has missed the mark.
The network yesterday released a COVID-19 vaccination ad, but it wasn’t the call-out that got audiences riled up — rather its complete lack of diversity.
The Block host Scott Cam led the promo, titled “This is our shot” which featured a roster of Nine’s most recognisable talent — including Eddie McGuire, Shaynna Blaze, Liz Hayes and Richard Wilkins.
Karl Stefanovic was also shown in the doctor’s chair, ready and waiting to “get it done”.
Leila McKinnon, Hamish Blake, Tara Brown, Amy Shark, Rebecca Maddern, Erin Molan, Deborah Knight, Peter Overton, Andy Lee, Sylvia Jeffreys and Tom Steinfort are among the celebrities to appear in the minute-long advertisement.
Throughout the ad, the presenters speak about how getting the jab would help us “get our lives back” and allow for live music, sporting crowds, businesses to stay open, families to be reunited and lives to be saved.
The roll-out this week was unfortunate timing for the network, as it came under fire during Reconciliation Week.
While the public health message was intended to tackle vaccine hesitancy, many people agreed it had fallen flat.
“The message is great but the lack of cultural diversity is staggering,” Twitter user Richard Watts said.
“Good message but do only white people work for Channel 9?” and “Has no-one told Channel 9 we are a multiracial country?,” other comments read.
Channel 10 presenter and Media Diversity Australia co-founder Antoinette Lattouf also took aim.
“Yo @Channel9 you missed your shot at looking like you care about the health of anyone who isn’t white #getvaccinated #butonlyifyourewhite,” she tweeted.
She later followed up, saying she applauded what the network was trying to do but that it was “glaringly obvious” that no presenters represented the diverse make-up of the country.
“Welcome to blind spots folks. I trust its that and not white supremacy,” she wrote.
Nine Network’s Director of Television Michael Healy did not address the controversy, but said there were more promos slated for release.
“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,” he said.
“It is an internal initiative and there will be a number of promos rolled out during this campaign.”
Currently, none of those who took part in the promo have responded publicly to the criticism.
The ad comes after the 2020 Media Diversity Australia report ‘Who Gets To Tell Australian Stories?’ found last year that “more than 75 per cent of presenters, commentators and reporters (in the Australian media) have an Anglo-Celtic background.”