The United Kingdom’s National Health Service has come under fire for a recently released television ad depicting a gravely ill Santa Claus.
Created as part of the NHS’ latest Christmas campaign, the commercial begins with an unconscious, elderly man with a white beard being wheeled into the hospital and then attached to oxygen tubes as he is surrounded by doctors and nurses trying to resuscitate him while wearing full protective gear.
Critics blasted the ad for its morbid insensitivity.
— Metro (@MetroUK) December 8, 2020
As the video goes on, the elderly man slowly recovers from his sickness and takes notice of the nurse who cared for him and how hard she worked. The video culminates with the nurse receiving a gift from “Santa.”
According to the marketing news website The Drum, the most common concern among critics of the video was that children would be traumatized from seeing Santa Claus so close to death.
“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,” NHS Charities Together responded in a statement this month.
“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.”
Following the apology, the ad was removed from all social channels, The Drum reported.
NHS Charities Together can say all it wants that the ad wasn’t intended for children, but in the end the group put Santa Claus in a commercial that aired on television.
Did the NHS not think kids would recognize their favorite holiday hero?
Whether the choice to air the commercial came from ignorance or incompetence doesn’t matter; the NHS organization made a huge mistake in airing it. The group essentially acknowledged as much by later removing the ad.
It certainly is important to spread the message about COVID to the elderly and high-risk populations.
Also, there is nothing wrong with celebrating the hard work provided day in and day out by health care professionals during these hard times.
That being the case, there are better ways to spread the message of COVID.
More specifically, ways that don’t involve giving children psychological trauma from seeing Santa with the pale visage of death crawling on his face.
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