Tesco Christmas advert featuring Santa with Covid vaccine passport cleared after 5,000 complaints

Credit: Tesco/Youtube

Tesco’s Christmas advert which features Santa Claus bearing a Covid vaccine passport has been cleared by the UK advertising watchdog, after it prompted more than 5,000 complaints from viewers.

The advert, titled This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us, shows the public determined to enjoy a proper Christmas with family and friends after stringent lockdown restrictions prevented gatherings last year.

However, in one scene a reporter appears on TV with “breaking news”, telling viewers that “Santa could be quarantined”.

Father Christmas is then shown presenting his Covid pass at border control to prove he has been vaccinated to a customs officer so he can enter the country freely.

After the 90-second advertisement launched last month, the ASA received 5,009 complaints, with the scene sparking widespread controversy on social media.

The ASA said the large majority of the complaints claimed the advert - which is set to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now - was coercive and encouraged medical discrimination based on vaccine status.

But the watchdog found that Tesco’s Christmas TV campaign had not broken the UK advertising code.

“Having carefully assessed the 5,000 complaints we received about the Tesco Christmas ad campaign, we have concluded it doesn’t break our rules and there are no grounds for further action," the ASA said. “In summary, we consider that the depiction of Santa displaying a proof of vaccine status in an airport is likely to be seen as a humorous reference to international travel rules people have experienced this year; it is unlikely to be interpreted as a message about these rules or the Covid-19 vaccine more widely. “While we understand that some people disagree with the vaccine programme and may find the ad in poor taste, we have concluded that the ad is unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or cause serious or widespread offence on the basis suggested.”

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