NHS Charities Together defends shock Christmas ad of unconscious Santa

NHS Charities Together The Gift campaign
NHS Charities Together's The Gift campaign.

A controversial Christmas advert that shows Santa unconscious in hospital has been defended by NHS Charities Together – although it apologised if it upset any small children.

The campaign video, titled The Gift, highlights the hard work of NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic, but was met with some complaints over being “insensitive” to younger viewers.

It features an elderly man with a white beard rushed to hospital, revived by medical staff wearing PPE, and coming round with oxygen tubes attached to his face.

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After his recovery, he sends a note to the nurse who looked after him that reads: “Thank you for everything you’ve done for all of us, Santa.”

But rather than celebrating frontline workers, some who saw the advert complained that it could “traumatise” young children.

One person reacting on social media tweeted: “You’ve taken their education away now you wanna take their innocence ?? Do me a favour !!!!”

Another added: ““Someone thought this was a good idea. Guaranteed to scare the hell out of little ones if they watch it.”

Someone else tweeted: “I’m sure covid doesn’t care about age or whether Santa is real or not for your children but I understand that using Santa in an ad may be a bit insensitive.”

NHS Charities Together responded with the statement: “We created our Christmas campaign to highlight the ongoing commitment and hard work of NHS staff and volunteers to keep us safe and well in what has been and continues to be a really challenging time for the NHS.”

It said most reactions to it had been positive, and that the ad had been made to appeal to charity supporters, not younger viewers.

The statement went on: “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.”

Watch: What’s allowed during a COVID Christmas?