HHS scraps celebrity COVID-19 ad campaign aimed at 'defeating despair'

HHS scraps celebrity COVID-19 ad campaign aimed at 'defeating despair'
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The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has decided to cancel a planned ad campaign featuring celebrities meant to aid in "defeating despair" concerning the coronavirus pandemic, according to a letter obtained by Politico.

A political ally of President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE came up with the idea for the campaign over the summer, but it was met with backlash from Democrats in Congress who viewed it as an attempt to boost public opinion of Trump ahead of the election, the news outlet noted.

HHS reportedly determined that the celebrity campaign, which was part of a larger $300 million taxpayer-funded effort, should be scrapped after conducting an internal review to determine whether it met public health goals. Though the celebrity campaign was removed, it was determined that the larger campaign would go on.


“We are pleased that following our investigation, HHS finally pulled the plug on this corrupt scheme," House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDemocrats urge tech giants to change algorithms that facilitate spread of extremist content Hillicon Valley: Biden names acting chairs to lead FCC, FTC | Facebook to extend Trump ban pending review | Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler Judge denies request for Amazon to immediately restore Parler MORE (D-N.Y.), coronavirus select panel Chairman James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiThere's no excuse for the government to put dangerous cars on the road Democrat rips Sackler family, Purdue doctors during House questioning Enforcing the Presidential Records Act is essential for preserving our democracy's transparency, history MORE (D-Ill.), wrote in a joint statement, according to Politico. "Accurate, reliable information must be a critical part of the federal government’s coronavirus response and should not be tainted by inappropriate political messaging."

Over 200 celebrities were considered for the campaign and were vetted according to their political views. Actor Dennis Quaid, gospel singer Cece Winans and Hasidic singer Shulem Lemmer were reportedly all interviewed but later pulled out.

Comedian George Lopez had planned a public service announcement within the campaign, but it was canceled after he criticized the Trump administration, according to Politico.

“It is unfortunate that the contract was cancelled, as much of the work we were focused on would have been beneficial as the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Atlas Research, the company contracted to produce the celebrity campaign, told the news outlet. “We hope to have another opportunity to serve our fellow citizens by delivering life-saving public health messages in the midst of this unprecedented pandemic.”

HHS is currently working on a separate campaign to raise awareness surrounding COVID-19, Politico noted.