The Polish government invested almost 3 million PLN (€706,378) into a controversial public campaign encouraging citizens to “breed like rabbits”.
The 30-second video featured rabbits munching on lettuce and carrots while a rabbit “narrator” revealed the secrets of producing many offspring – exercising, healthy lifestyle and avoiding stress. At the end of the advert, a couple enjoying a romantic picnic made a brief appearance.
The campaign was the Ministry of Health’s attempt to address country’s decreasing fertility rate, which is one of the lowest in Europe.
The video’s approach, which urged Poles to follow the example of rabbits – an animal known for producing a lot of offspring in a short space of time – sparked outrage among the press, both sides of the government and on the social media.
Famous Polish illustrator and political cartoonist, Andrzej Mleczko, mocked the video by publishing a drawing which showed a rabbit asking a kiosk owner to sell him eight hundred condoms.
A popular meme on Twitter, published by an anonymous internet user, said the Polish government wanted to portray citizens as animals, who would behave as they are told and would not act independently. Suggesting that Poles should breed like rabbits, work like Trojans and vote like sheep.
Many internet users accused the video of being inappropriate and argued that there was a lack of transparency as to whom the government was trying to reach through the campaign:
“Families with many children? Single people? A family that has unsuccessfully tried to have a baby?” (Iwona Wojna)
The majority of critics focused on the high cost of the campaign.
“Three million spent on the rabbit campaign could have helped many couples to get pregnant through IVF. This is family politics on the level of the Law and Justice party.”
Poland’s conservative government decided to end state funding for IVF only two years after it was introduced, arguing that it was too expensive and that there were other infertility treatment options available.