Titled “This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us”, the minute-and-a-half clip shows Britons enjoying this year’s festive season after lockdown restrictions last year meant the majority of friends and families could not come together.
But amid the joy, a news reporter tells shocked viewers that Father Christmas “may have to be quarantined” – before the man of the hour appears in front of a Border Control officer bearing his Covid pass to certify he has received both doses of a vaccine, and so can go ahead with his travel plans.
Despite the make-believe British public being overjoyed on screen, it was a different story on Twitter as dozens of anti-vaxxers launched a #BoycottTesco campaign in response to the commercial.
“Blimey … I bet Tesco bosses are sweating right now,” one man in Essex tweeted. “Who the hell thought it was a good idea to show a vaccine passport in their Xmas advert?!”
He added: “I’m not surprised #BoycottTesco is trending. Idiotic.”
One woman from Loughton commented underneath the ad – posted to the official Tesco Twitter account – saying: “This is absolutely sick. Jab passports and quarantine are not jokes. Leave it out of Christmas please.”
The supermarket giant made its position clear, though, when it responded to her message directly, saying only: “This Christmas, #NothingsStoppingUs.”
Some of the responses were more dramatic, with one man posting a picture of his Tesco Clubcard – through which the supermarket’s rewards system operates – cut up into three pieces. “Nope,” he wrote alongside the image. “I spend £500+ a month with yourselves. Not anymore though. #BoycottTesco.”
One woman, who describes herself as a “proud anti-C19 vaxxer” on her Twitter profile, asked: “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 flashing up his smart phone with a Covid passport on it??”
She continued: “Omg screaming in fear I am NEVER shopping at Tesco again #boycottTesco – not ok.”
While there was some negative feedback, a huge number of people shared their delight at Tesco’s “brilliant” and “on the money” advert.
“The Tesco marketing team smashed their ad this year,” wrote one woman from London, alongside a number of clapping hands emojis.
The government has been under intense pressure to assure families that Christmas will not be cancelled again this year, with senior Tory MPs being criticised in recent weeks for refusing to acknowledge the potential impact of coronavirus on the festive period.
Asked last month if the holiday was at risk, health secretary Sajid Javid said he thought Christmas would be “normal”, but suggested this was contingent on people “playing their part”, such as by getting vaccinated.
Around 46 million UK residents are thought to be fully vaccinated against Covid, according to the latest government figures, with the NHS saying more than 10 million in England alone had now received their “booster” vaccine since the programme began just seven weeks ago.
Every year, supermarkets, shops and retailers go head to head in an attempt to be crowned the winner of the unofficial Christmas ad competition.
Department store John Lewis has repeatedly stolen the show, however the big four supermarkets – Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons – have had some notable years. Perhaps most memorable was the “1914” advert from Sainsbury’s, which was broadcast seven years ago.
The commercial, which premiered on ITV in an ad break during Coronation Street, retold the story of Christmas Day in 1914, when opposing British and German soldiers emerged from their First World War trenches to exchange gifts and play football.
A Tesco spokesperson later said in a statement: “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.”
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