The Government's 'Fatima' ad suggesting artists and performers retrain ‘in cyber’ received widespread condemnation before they were pulled
Government adverts encouraging artists and performers to retrain have backfired in spectacular fashion as social media users remake the “Fatima” ad to feature leading Downing Street figures.
The ads were widely criticised online for featuring a ballet dancer lacing her shoes with the caption “Fatima’s next job should be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet)” followed by “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot”.
The Fatima ad arrived days after Chancellor Rishi Sunak denied suggesting people in the arts should retrain and were attributed to “CyberFirst”, a programme from the National Cyber Security Centre aiming to encourage young people into tech jobs, and to “HM Government”.
Musician Goldie, writer Caitlin Moran and actor James McAvoy were among thousands who criticised the ads before they were scrapped by Number 10. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden described them as “crass” and a Downing Street spokesperson told the BBC they were “not appropriate”.
But that hasn’t stopped dozens of digital designers using their art skills to turn the posters back on the Government.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Prime Minister Boris Johnson featured regularly, with one meme picturing him as a ballerina and another from Labour group Momentum suggesting “his next job could be sooner than he thinks”.
This is more like it…
Posted by Momentum on Monday, 12 October 2020
Chancellor Sunak also received some helpful advice for alternative career options, with some people arguing “Rishi’s next job could be in Tesco” or “in baggage handling”.
Baroness Dido Harding, who was widely-criticised in her role running the coronavirus test-and-trace programme for not predicting there would be increased demand for tests when schools reopened in September, was the subject of a post by satirical TV show Have I Got News For You.
“Dido’s next job shouldn’t be in cyber or healthcare,” it read. “But they’ll give it to her anyway.”
Government launches new ad campaign urging struggling workers to retrain:
Posted by Have I Got News For You on Monday, 12 October 2020
And Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has come under fire for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, didn’t escape the satirists’ lens either.
“Matt’s next job could be organising a piss-up in a brewery,” read a meme from the We Are Labour Facebook Page, “(he just doesn’t know how to yet).”
No, he really couldn't.
Posted by We Are Labour on Monday, 12 October 2020
It wasn’t just government figures who were featured.
One artist used the meme to ask what could have been if William Shakespeare had been asked to retrain, with the caption “William’s next job could be in an Amazon warehouse”.
“Come on Shakespeare, get a real job,” he added.
Another user pointed out all the creative professionals who could have been involved in making the different elements of the Fatima ad itself, including a photographer, make-up artist, hairstylist, fashion designer, typographer, copywriter, graphic designer, architect and furniture maker.
Artists and performers have been sounding the alarm in recent weeks as many venues have been closed for more than six months, meaning the events business, which adds billions to the UK economy each year, has all but ground to a halt.
The Government pledged £1.57bn in funding for the arts but “the complications of distribution mean arts organisations and venues across the country are yet to receive this rescue package”, according to Jessie Murphy, who organised the Let Music Live protests in London and Birmingham in early October.
The Big Issue’s Ride Out Recession Alliance continues fight to protect people’s jobs and keep families in their homes. To join our campaign, and get weekly updates about what you can do, click here.
Image credit: Maeve_ab9/Flickr