An ad designed by a group supporting the official charities of the British National Health Service is facing criticism for putting Santa Claus in a COVID-19 intensive care unit.
In the brief spot, an elderly man is wheeled into a hospital by ambulance workers and placed immediately on oxygen. Doctors and nurses are shown working on the old man as he eventually regains his health. Once recovered, he leaves a gift for the NHS staff that cared for him, and it is revealed that the old man was the jolly old elf himself.
The ad, entitled "The Gift," was intended to engender gratitude and praise for frontline workers in the country's hospitals, but instead has been widely panned for being deeply unsettling for children.
The criticism prompted NHS Charities Together to pull the ad from YouTube and issue the following statement:
"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. 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. 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."