Pedro Simas in interview with APAVT (Portugal's tourism and travel association)

Virologist in hot water for appearing in “misleading” advertising campaign

Virologist Pedro Simas – one of the country’s leading ‘pandemic commentators’ in the early days of Covid-19- is currently in hot water over what is being described as a ‘misleading’ advertising campaign.

The internationally-renowned expert appeared in a television ad for Carl Zeiss anti-viral lenses.

His line was: “Do you know how to protect your eyes against viruses and bacteria? I will tell you how…”

Carl Zeiss ‘competitor’ Essilor didn’t like the message one little bit. The multinational’s Portugal operation complained to the sector’s regulator ARP, accusing Zeiss of “erroneously inducing potential customers” by featuring such a well known face in terms of Covid media coverage.

Said the complaint: “The association of a figure like Pedro Simas and the language used in relation to protection against viruses and bacteria creates this idea among consumers… in a misleading and abusive way”.

ARP has upheld Essilor Portugal’s complaint, ordering the removal of “all supporting publicity”.

The regulator considers the messages given “are not true and therefore misleading”, explains Correio da Manhã today.

But this assertion rather falls down with the ensuing sentence in which the paper explains: “The deliberation (by ARP) stresses however that the quality of lenses and protection against viruses and bacteria are not in question”.

In other words, it seems the only thing that is ‘misleading’ is the fact that Professor Simas was the figure chosen as the messenger.

The 54-year-old scientist is definitely ‘one of a kind’ when it comes to the panoply of Portuguese experts. He is not simply a respected reference in his field, appearing in countless television interviews, webinars and programmes; he is something of a keep fit-fanatic; an ice-cream maker… and a budding politician (standing for the PSD-CDS in Lisbon in the municipal elections taking place next month). 

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