An NHS Charities Together ad that seemingly sees Santa Claus almost die from COVID-19 has been slammed by parents as “insensitive” and the “worst form of emotional blackmail”.
Titled ‘The Gift’, the ad shows Santa recovering from an illness in hospital, before leaving a present under the Christmas tree for the nurse who treated him.
The campaign had been running across digital, out of home and in the media since 8 December. Following the backlash, it has been removed from the charity’s YouTube and social accounts.
You can watch the advert below.
NHS Charities Together originally defended the campaign, however, and said that it was grateful for the “overwhelmingly positive response” to the ad.
The charity said the campaign isn’t aimed at children but has apologised to those upset by the ad.
This utterly shameful Ad MUST be taken down immediately, how dare you mess with the mental health of of our children SHAME ON YOU. https://t.co/gXDb5MhpEJ
— Tonia Buxton (@ToniaBuxton) December 10, 2020
In a statement, NHS Charities Together said: “When we launched the ad earlier in the week, we had an overwhelmingly positive response to it. Some subsequent media coverage of it has generated criticism of the ad on social media and some people have expressed their concern about it upsetting children.
“The ad has been made to engage charity supporters and those who may want to buy products that generate donations to the appeal. It isn’t aimed at children and hasn’t been shown on TV. The charity did not put any funds into the production of the ad.
“We worked closely with the team behind the ad to make sure it was produced responsibly and it was cleared for use by the relevant regulatory authority. However, we are sorry to the parents of any young children who have been upset by watching the ad and to the young children themselves, they were not the intended audience for it.”
Not everyone disliked the ad, however, with some social media users praising the work as “truly touching” and “lovely”.
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