Tesco’s Christmas advert featuring double-jabbed Santa is most complained about campaign of the year

Advertising watchdog to review more than 3,000 complaints received after anti-vaxxers launch campaign boycotting the supermarket

Kate Ng
Tuesday 16 November 2021 13:10
Tesco release 2021 Christmas advert

Tesco’s Christmas advert for 2021, which features Santa Claus bearing a Covid vaccine pass, has become the most complained about ad of the year so far.

The TV campaign, titled “This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us”, garnered more than 3,000 complaints after anti-vaxxers launched a #BoycottTesco campaign on social media.

The supermarket’s minute-and-a-half festive spot shows Britons taking full advantage of Christmas this year after lockdown restrictions prevented most people from coming together to celebrate the holiday season.

In one scene, a reporter appears on TV to tell viewers that “Santa could be quarantined” – but he is then shown presenting his Covid pass at border control to prove he has been vaccinated and can enter the country without restrictions.

But the light-hearted advert, set to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”, sparked fierce debate online as people who are against the use of Covid passes accused it of being “discriminatory”.

Among those complaining was TV presenter and nutritionist Gillian McKeith, who tweeted: “Tesco has a new Christmas advert that celebrates discrimination and segregation via a fully-jabbed Santa who shows his medical status!

“Who in their right mind in management thought this was a good idea?” she continued. “If you don’t #BoycottTesco then you are complicit.”

One person wrote: “Deffo not doing my Christmas shop with you lot this year! You think it’s ok to promote a discriminatory passport in your advert? Pull that rubbish ASAP.”

Another said: “Why is there a Covid pass? What are you suggesting?? That people can’t shop without one? Discrimination is very unChristmas.”

However, other people pointed out that Santa showed a Covid pass at an airport, and that some countries require it as proof of vaccination in order to gain entry.

“He’s at the airport not the frozen section,” said one person. “Lighten up. They’re not saying you need it to shop in Tesco.”

Another person praised the advert and said: “These last two years have been hard on everyone and this ad was light-hearted and fun. Some people need to realise it’s just an advert and you shouldn’t judge the shop over a silly little Xmas ad.”

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was reviewing the complaints to see if they warranted an investigation for a potential breach of the rules.

“We’ve received over 3,000 complaints regarding this ad,” said a spokesperson. “We are currently carefully reviewing these complaints to determine whether there are any grounds for further action.

“The large majority of complaints assert that the ad is coercive and encourages medical discrimination based on vaccine status.”

A Tesco spokesperson 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 which 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.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in