A video ad released this week by the Ministry of Health features rabbits on screen “talking” about healthy living. Health is especially important the 30-second spot says for couples trying to conceive a child.
Poland has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe, and its population has been on the decline since the late 1990s.
The narrator, speaking as a rabbit, says, “Do you want to know our secret?”
The rabbit says that healthy eating and exercise are keys to being healthy and thus fertile.
It goes on, “Who else but we rabbits know how to care for many offspring? If you want to become a parent one day, take the example of rabbits.”
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Near the end of the video, the rabbit says, “I know what I’m saying. Our dad had 63 of us!”
The video has sparked some controversy. Rabbits are associated with fertility, owing to their large number of offspring. For some viewers, the ad brought to mind the common smear against faithful Catholics with large families that they “breed like rabbits.”
Poland is known as one of the most Catholic countries in Europe. In January, the Polish government enthroned the Blessed Virgin Mary as its Queen. And in November 2016, the Polish bishops declared Christ Jesus the nation’s King.
One Catholic commentator in Poland slammed the advertiser’s choice of metaphor: “It came across as rude and duplicated the worst stereotypes about families with many children.”
The critic continued, “It is difficult to suspect the health department of deliberate ridicule. After all, [Minister of Health Konstanty] Radziwiłł himself is the head of a large family. In this case, we are dealing with an outstanding example of mindlessness and shortsightedness from the campaign authors.”
Other commentators enjoyed the message’s humor.
Minister of Health Konstanty Radziwiłł addressed the criticisms on Wednesday, saying, “Specialists in social campaigns have found this method a little controversial but provocative. And it is important, it will be good to draw attention to the problem we have in Poland and throughout Europe, as well with an insufficient number of births.”
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