A new campaign for Alzheimer's Research UK imagines a world in which Santa is living with the effects of dementia and has stopped delivering presents to children.
The two-minute animated, "Santa forgot", tells the story of a girl called Freya, who grew up after Santa stopped visiting. After being told about his condition by her father, she travels to the North Pole, offers her support and re-mobilises the redundant elves as researchers, arguing that "if Santa has a disease, research can find a way to fix it".
The film, created by Aardman Animations and narrated by Stephen Fry, aims to highlight the range of symptoms that Alzheimer’s can cause, the social isolation of dementia, and the fact that it can affect anyone – even Santa Claus.
The charity is targeting an adult audience with the film which it said would sit outside of young children’s typical viewing hours. Clearcast, which approves ads for UK commercial channels, cleared the advert to be screened from 7.30pm onwards although it will debut today at 9.15pm during ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here' to maximise impact, a spokeswoman for the charity said.
Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: "'Santa forgot' is a poignant and powerful reminder that dementia doesn’t discriminate. We have to be provocative about dementia, to help fight misconceptions and fatalism around the condition and to demonstrate that pioneering research holds the answers.
"Santa is an important cultural figure, but the idea that he too could be affected drives home the point that dementia can strike those most special in our lives.
"We have made enormous strides against diseases like cancer and AIDS, and with the right research we can do the same for dementia. Santa Forgot reminds us to believe in the power of research."
An earlier verison of this article was first published in Campaign