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NHS Charities Together Defends Controversial Christmas Advert Which Features Santa Sick In Hospital With Covid-19

NHS Charities Together Defends Controversial Christmas Advert Which Features Santa Sick In Hospital With Covid-19

NHS Charities Together has defended its Christmas advert, which drew criticism for featuring Santa in a hospital bed with Covid-19.

In the TV advert - which many claimed dampened their festive spirit, and some even branded 'insensitive' and 'disgusting' - we see an elderly bearded man being rushed to hospital before doctors and nurses try to bring him round.

The ad, named The Gift, then shows the man with oxygen tubes coming from his face, before a masked nurse asks him: "How are you feeling?".

Watch it below:

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While he's in NHS care, there are several hints he's not just any old patient, including a get well soon card from his head reindeer "Rudy" and a huge pile of letters addressed to the Big Man himself.

Throughout the clip the man is then seen slowly reviving, until he can eventually eat and walk again, and is able to leave the hospital on a frame, following help from the medical staff.

But the big reveal comes as he heads home and waves goodbye to the medics who looked after him, before the nurse opens a present from him, alongside a note that reads: "Thank you for everything you've done for all of us, Santa."

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Reacting to the ad after it landed on TV, many claimed they felt uncomfortable with the charities taking using the magical Christmas figure to send a message about coronavirus, while others said they worried how they'd explain the gloomy advert to their children.

"Now trying to explain to my autistic son how the NHS cures Santa but not his Uncle #nhspay15 @NHSCharities," one wrote.

The festive ad features an old man in hospital with Covid-19 (Credit: NHS Charities Together)
The festive ad features an old man in hospital with Covid-19 (Credit: NHS Charities Together)

As another chipped in: "How many children are going to be brought to tears thinking Santa is going to die?"

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Another penned: "Excuse the pun, but this is *sick*. Shame on whoever came up with this idea."

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But defending the ad, NHS Charities Together released a statement explaining that it wasn't aimed at children, and actually had a really important message.

"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," they said.

"We are really grateful that through the support of our partners we were able to create a film to get that point across, and to encourage people to keep supporting NHS staff, patients and volunteers by generating donations to our appeal.

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"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."

It soon becomes clear the old man is Santa (Credit: NHS Charities Together)
It soon becomes clear the old man is Santa (Credit: NHS Charities Together)

The statement continued: "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.

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"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."

Featured Image Credit: NHS Charities Together

Topics: Christmas, TV News, TV & Film, Coronavirus, NHS, Covid-19

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Joanna Freedman

Joanna is a journalist at Tyla with a particular interest in highlighting women's issues and telling inspiring first person stories. She's also their resident foodie, and loves covering exciting new beauty launches, too. Contact her at [email protected]