Yesterday (12th October 2020), an advert was published that was intended to promote the message of workers re-skilling to start a career within the cyber industry. However, social media backlash swiftly followed.

Earlier this week, the Government released an advert in collaboration with Cyber First, a programme which introduces children to the world of cyber security and technology.

A ballerina was photographed in the advert tying up her ballet shoes. The text beside it read “Fatima’s new job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet)”. Underneath, the slogan read “Rethink, Reskill, Reboot”, the cyber campaign’s tagline.

However, this advert was met with an overwhelmingly hostile response on social media platforms including Twitter.

Many viewed this as an attack on the arts industry which has suffered significantly due to COVID-19. According to figures by Oxford Economics in June 2020, there were predictions of almost half a million redundancies in the arts industry (400,000 jobs predicted to be lost) and projected figures of a £74 billion drop in revenue for this sector.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), wrote on his Twitter account:

To those tweeting regarding Fatima

This was not something from DCMS and I agree it was crass.

This was a partner campaign encouraging people from all walks of life to think about a career in cyber security.

I want to save jobs in the arts which is why we are investing £1.57bn.

Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, the Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, also tweeted in response to the advert:

Fatima, you be you. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you aren’t good enough because you don’t conform to their preconceived social norms.

Mr. Dowden’s tweet refers to the statement made by the Government in July 2020. The Government vowed to give a £1.57 billion rescue package to Britain’s arts, culture and heritage industries to “help weather the impact of coronavirus”.

This backlash also follows recent comments from Chancellor Rishi Sunak about “viable jobs” in relation to his new Job Support Scheme.

Talking to ITV news, the Chancellor was asked about “musicians, actors, directors, freelancers in the arts [who] say you’ve not helped them at all”. In response, the Chancellor stated that “In all walks of life, everyone is having to adapt [and] adjust to the new reality”.

This too prompted a negative response from those in the arts sector after the ITV News Politics account tweeted “Rishi Sunak suggests musicians and others in the arts should retrain and find other jobs”. However, this was later altered so the headline instead read “Rishi Sunak says people in ‘all walks of life’ are having to adapt for employment”.

A Number 10 spokesperson stated that the advert “was not appropriate and has been removed”.