Ad showing chef cough out green phlegm on 'corona pizza' irks coronavirus-hit Italy: 'Deeply disrespectful'

The French ad has been slammed by Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who called it 'unacceptable'


                            Ad showing chef cough out green phlegm on 'corona pizza' irks coronavirus-hit Italy: 'Deeply disrespectful'
(Getty Images)
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Italian citizens and government officials have expressed their outrage over a French advertisement for 'corona pizza' that seemingly made a mockery of the coronavirus epidemic threatening to break out in the country.

The ad in question showed a person who was purportedly an Italian chef baking a pizza in the oven, and then, after taking it out, coughs on it. The ad even showed the chef's green phlegm pasted across the pizza.

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It was aired by French premium channel Canal+ on satirical television show 'Groland,' and came just after outlets in Italy reported that the total number of cases had crossed 2,500. COVID-19 has also claimed 79 lives in the country so far.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio slammed the ad and called it "unacceptable" and "disrespectful" in a public Facebook post where he also said he had notified the Italian embassy in Paris. "This is the preview of a video spread by a French TV that I consider to be of doubt taste and unacceptable," he wrote. "I understand satire and understand everything, but making fun of Italians like this, with the emergency of the Coronavirus we are facing is deeply disrespectful. As the foreign ministry, we immediately activated our embassy in Paris."

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He invited the makers of the ad to come and eat a pizza in Italy, "pizza like they've never eaten in their lives," before criticizing the media for not upholding their "moral obligation to provide correct and transparent information about the real dimension of the phenomenon in Italy."

"Unfortunately this is not what is happening and this is damaging our economy and our entrepreneurs," he said. "We demand respect. Our citizens, workers, entrepreneurs demand and deserve respect always, especially in a delicate situation like this."

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It was a view shared by Italian Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova, who told the media that the ad was spreading misinformation by suggesting the virus spread via food.

"This is not satire, it's an insult to an entire nation," she told Il Tempo TV. "As the European and international authorities have repeatedly stated, it is not transmitted through food."

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She was backed by representatives from the Italian farmer association Coldiretti, who called the ad a "stab in the back" and pointed out how Italy was France's second-largest market after Germany, and every year, contributed $5.5 billion to their economy.

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