Alzheimer’s Research UK has launched a Christmas advert that brings the realities of dementia home by showing a beloved figure suffering from the disease. Stephen Fry narrates the tale of Santa Claus being unable to complete his seasonal duties due to being confused and disorientated.
It follows a little girl called Freya who hopes that one day a treatment could be found to help bring back the magic of Christmas. So sad is the ad that authorities have only allowed it to be shown on television after 9pm.
Animators from Aardman, which is responsible for Wallace and Gromit, were brought in to illustrate the film to bring attention to the condition. The character of Freya travels to the North Pole and finds Santa Claus staring vacantly into the fire, with his distinctive red suit having faded to grey.
She enlists the help of Santa’s elves, who have been left without any work to do, and they become scientists who start to work on a cure. This shows the hope that there could be a future where people who get dementia can be given a way out of it.
Hilary Evans, the chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “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 to be provocative about dementia, to help fight misconceptions and fatalism around the condition and to demonstrate that pioneering research holds the answers.”
She went on to say how huge strides have been made against cancer and AIDS in the past and that the same could happen for dementia. The advert is designed to remind people that there is hope in the area of research and that this should not be forgotten.
It has recently been announced that dementia and Alzheimer’s are now the leading causes of death in England and Wales. There are in excess of 850,000 people in the UK living with the disease, costing £24 billion a year to care for, but Alzheimer’s Research UK hopes this can be reversed.
This year is not the first time that issues concerning elderly people have been brought to the attention of the public through festive ads. Last Christmas, John Lewis teamed up with Age UK to highlight loneliness in the demographic with a storyline focusing on the man in moon being alone during the celebrations.