The advertising campaign was dreamed up by regional health authorities in the southern Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur region and focuses on ‘desirable side effects’ of the vaccine.
In an attempt to address fears of vaccine side-effects, the series of four adverts uses the tagline ‘Yes, the vaccine can have desirable effects’ with images of people going on holiday, attending festivals and travelling.
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💉#VaccinationCovid | "Oui, le vaccin peut avoir des effets désirables".
Nous lançons une campagne de sensibilisation pour inciter et convaincre la population à recourir à la #vaccination
— ARS Paca (@ARSPaca) July 1, 2021
But it was the fourth image in the series that really caught international attention, showing a couple who appear to be enjoying a hook-up.
🇨🇵 government promotes Covid vaccine by heavily implying that it will get you laid 🤣 pic.twitter.com/6CG7tOohOd
— Emma Pearson (@LocalFR_Emma) July 2, 2021
Playing to French stereotypes as the land of lovers, it was widely shared on social media and several English-language news sources ran articles on it, including British newspaper The Independent, who titled their article ‘A very, very French vaccine advert’.
‘Very, very French’ vaccine advert promotes Covid jab with kissing couple https://t.co/LuxCbyjgwq
— The Independent (@Independent) July 2, 2021
On social media, many others pointed out that in the US there are financial inducements to get the vaccine – such as lotteries – while British adverts focus on going to the pub again, in contrast to France’s saucier message.
“We have not stopped broadcasting messages explaining why we must protect ourselves and others with barrier gestures but also the vaccine,” explains Philippe de Mester, Director General of the PACA health authority which devised the campaign.
“But we realised that this rather institutional discourse, which is sometimes a bit guilt-inducing, had little impact.
“So we thought about another approach, asking ourselves how we could reach people differently.”
the french vaccination ad campaign is just *so good* pic.twitter.com/ciObPlRwW8
— juan (@juanbuis) June 10, 2021
The campaign, which is intended to target younger people who might be hesitant to get the vaccine, will now be expanded from social media, with posters going up across the southern region.
“It looks like an advert for condoms,” one passer-by told French radio station FranceInfo as the billboards were erected on Thursday.