19 Sep 2016

In the past two weeks my social media feeds have been overtaken by friends in Italy discussing the launch of Fertility Day digital campaign by the Italian Health Ministry.

As part of the National Fertility Program aimed at boosting Italian birth rate, health minister Beatrice Lorenzini has established an official Fertility Day on 22 September, which has been promoted along with its own hashtag #fertilityday.

Hoping to engage users in a constructive conversation around the issue, the overwhelmingly negative reaction following the release of the campaign came as a shock for the minister. The hashtag has quickly become a trending topic, and thousands of users have turned to social media to attack it, attracting as a result the attention of sources such as The Guardian and New York Times. Adding fuel to the fire, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi publically criticised the campaign in a radio interview and distanced himself from his minister’s idea.

Centre of the media hype has been the official posters, promoting slogans along the lines of “Hurry up! Don’t wait for the stork” and “Beauty knows no age… Fertility does”, from which hundreds of sarcastic memes have been created.

But what impact can tweeters have on the advertisements and slogans that your communication team have carefully planned and meditated over for months? Well, apparently a lot!

The campaign website included a game, promoted as #fertilitygame, which had to be removed following the digital world’s outraged reaction. Controversial hashtags #fertilitymayday and #infertilityday have been launched, and Italian comic quintet Il Terzo Segreto di Satira posted on YouTube their revamped satirical spot, parodying the original video for the campaign, and collecting more than fifty thousand views and two thousand likes in just one week.

Eventually, after heavy pressure, Lorenzin announced that the campaign will be substituted with a new one, but some cities have already announced they will suspend the events planned for the end of the month.

We at Social360 assist our clients with in-depth analysis of their social media campaigns, tracking the reach of their hashtags and slogans, the overall sentiment and identify influential commentators, and while we await celebrations of potentially the strangest ‘Day’ in history, and the release of the new campaign, here’s some advice that we wish we could have shared with health minister Lorenzin; always try and gauge public sentiment before giving the green light to a campaign and releasing it to the social media wolves!

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