The Italian Ministry of Health is in hot water after launching a campaign for a Fertility Day, which is exactly what it sounds like.
The country, which faces a declining birth rate that’s putting its economy in danger, is urging anyone who can make a baby to do so on Sept. 22. “Fertility is a common good,” the campaign urges.
The initiative hasn’t quite been as seductive as the Ministry hoped, reports Quartz. In fact, it’s prompted so much backlash on Twitter, where angry users have ripped the campaign using the hashtag #FertilityDay for the past 24 hours, that its founders are backpedaling.
The Ministry has since removed the initiative’s Web site (fertilityday2016.it), but the bizarre and even offensive images created for the campaign live on. One ad urges, “Beauty knows no age. Fertility does.” Another reads: “Young parents. The best way to be creative.” With the unemployment rate at 42 percent for Italians ages of 15 to 24, writer Giulia Blasi points out that there may be better ways to get creative than popping out a kid you can’t afford. She argues that Italy’s efforts would be better spent making it easier for women to balance motherhood and work.
But where Italy has crashed and burned, other low-birth countries have had a little more success. Danish travel company Spies Rejser made news when it launched a “Do it for Denmark” campaign, offering prizes to Danes who became pregnant while on vacation. The reason, according to the company: Denmark’s stunningly low birthrate of 10 babies per 1,000 residents in 2013. The company launched a follow-up campaign in 2015, “Do it for Mom,” that urged parents to send their married children on vacation to, you got it, make some grandkids. The city of Copenhagen really drove the message home a few weeks later, launching their own government-funded campaign to remind residents that fertility doesn’t last forever.