The UK’s advertisement regulator has concluded that a depiction of Santa Claus showing his vaccination status in Tesco’s Christmas ad does not break rules as it is likely to be seen as a “humorous reference” to travel rules.
“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 Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Twitter.
The watchdog believes that Santa, who shows his Covid pass at the airport in the retailer’s ad, “is likely to be seen as a humorous reference to international travel rules” rather than as “a message about these rules or the Covid-19 vaccine more widely.”
The regulator acknowledged that while some people disagree with the vaccine program and “may find the ad in poor taste,” the ASA nevertheless believes that the video “is unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or cause serious or widespread offence”.
The announcement was met with surprise by many on social media who had previously been unaware of the scale of discontent with the 90-second-long ad, which premiered in mid-November.
“Just heard that 5000 people complained about Santa having a vaccine passport in the Tesco advert. Imagine having so little going on in your life that this is the sort of thing you would complain about,” one commenter wrote.