Tesco appears keen not to stoke the controversy over its festive TV spot, featuring a double Covid jabbed Santa, after seemingly prioritising a shorter version of the ad which leaves Father Christmas languishing on the cutting room floor.
The UK retailer’s seasonal campaign, created by BBH, launched at the weekend and is set to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. The ad is designed to dispel many of the anxieties people will be feeling this Christmas around the safety of their traveling family members and friends.
The original 90-second version of “This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us” shows a news broadcast suggesting that Santa could be quarantined due to Covid-19 restrictions, but he is later seen entering the country (via an airport) wielding a vaccine passport.
At the last count, the ad had triggered more than 3,000 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority after just three days, making it one of the most complained about campaigns in history. Anti-vaxxers have also launched a #BoycottTesco campaign on social media in response to the festive spot.
One of the most vocal critics on social media has been Scottish TV personality and writer Gillian McKeith, who wrote: “#tesco has a new Christmas advert that celebrates #discrimination & #segregation via a fully jabbed Santa who shows his medical status!”
She added: “Who in their right mind in management thought this was a good idea? If you don’t #BoycottTesco then you are #complicit.”
Another added: “Did I really just see a Christmas TV ad on ITV for Tesco to Queen’s Don’t Stop me Now hit with families having fun / flying abroad etc & then a guy smiling flashing up his smart phone with a COVID passport on it?? Omg I am NEVER shopping at Tesco again #boycottTesco not ok.”
However, others have welcomed the planned boycott, insisting that it will be much better going to Tesco now anti-vaxxers will not be shopping in its stores.
One person tweeted: “Looks like it’s going to be a much safer place to shop, given the absolute state of the people using #BoycottTesco”; another added: “Bravo, Tesco! Well played! You’ve just made your supermarkets safer!”
However, by last night, a shorter 60-second version of the ad was being aired across most commercial channels.
Tesco declined to comment on whether the backlash has led to the Santa section being cut or if there were always plans to release two versions of the ad, which in itself would not be unusual. Even so, this does beg the question of why that particular segment has been removed in the shorter version and why it is seemingly being prioritised in the media schedule.
Meanwhile, in an earlier statement, Tesco said: “We respect everyone’s views and we know that Christmas is a hugely important time for many of our customers and, after last year’s events, that is truer now than ever. We set out to create a campaign that took a light-hearted view on how the nation is feeling and it has been well received by colleagues and customers.
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic and the advert reflects the current rules and regulations regarding international travel.”
The ASA said: “The large majority of complaints assert that the ad is coercive, and encourages medical discrimination based on vaccine status. We are currently carefully reviewing these complaints to determine whether there are any grounds for further action.”
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