Christmas Ad With Santa Holding Vaccine Passport Gets 1,500 Complaints

More than 1,500 people in the UK have complained about a supermarket advert featuring Santa Claus bearing a COVID-19 vaccine passport.

The Tesco Christmas advert, set to the backdrop of Queen's song "Don't Stop Me Now", premiered on Saturday during ITV's Celebrity Chase Special.

About halfway through the 90-second advert, there is a breaking news banner saying that Santa Clause could be quarantined this Christmas. Saint Nicholas is at an airport border control, and then Santa holds up a phone showing a pass to indicate that he has had his COVID-19 vaccine, before the border official lets him into the country so that he can deliver presents to the UK. A sound of applause follows and a young girl is seen on her sofa at home cheering.

After last Christmas, we’re determined to make it a good one. This Christmas #NothingsStoppingUs

— Tesco (@Tesco) November 13, 2021

All over the world, there has been opposition, especially among the anti-vaccination movement, to vaccine passports or passes, which in some instances have been a mandatory requirement to get into certain venues such as nightclubs and restaurants.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which enforces the UK advertising code, said it had received over 1,500 complaints about the advert. The ASA said it was reviewing the complaints to see if they warrant an investigation for a potentially breaching its rules.

"The large majority of complaints assert that the ad is coercive, and encourages medical discrimination based on vaccine status. We are currently carefully reviewing these complaints to determine whether there are any grounds for further action," an ASA spokesperson told The Guardian.

The Tesco advert sparked outrage on social media and many in the anti-vaxx movement threatened to boycott the UK's largest supermarket chain. A #BoycottTesco campaign was launched on social media over the weekend in response to the festive clip.

Several anti-vaccination campaigners were quick express their dismay online. Gillian McKeith tweeted: "#tesco has a new Christmas advert that celebrates #discrimination & #segregation via a fully jabbed Santa who shows his medical status!"

"Who in their right mind in management thought this was a good idea? If you don't #BoycottTesco then you are #complicit," she added.

Another anti-vaccination activist said: "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 smiling flashing up his smart phone with a COVID passport on it?? Omg I am NEVER shopping at Tesco again #boycottTesco not ok."

"Unacceptable and despicable. HUGE mistake on your part," another said.

Newsweek has contacted Tesco for comment.

Covid vaccine Santa Clause
This photograph taken on December 17, 2020, shows a Santa Claus figurine (L) with a bottle reading "Vaccine Covid-19" among surgical masks as an illustration, in Paris. More than 1,500 people in the UK have complained about a supermarket advert featuring Santa Claus bearing a COVID-19 vaccine pass. Joel Saget/Getty