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28 Dec, 2007 13:09

Parents revolt after TV ad discredits Santa

A Moscow company is in trouble over a TV advertisement suggesting that Father Frost, Russia's version of Santa Claus, does not exist. Parents said it shattered children's illusions, but the company says the ad was not intended for younger viewers.

Santa is real – that's the verdict of millions of children and some grown-ups all over the world.
However, not according to Eldorado, one of Moscow's biggest electronics retailers. Their ad suggesting that Father Frost doesn't exist appeared in a holiday-season commercial, which was broadcast during prime-time when children were watching.
What they didn't expect was a massive outcry from those looking forward to Santa's presents this year.
Outraged parents demanded that the commercial be removed and it didn't take long for officials to take it off air.
Andrey Kashevarov from the Anti-monopoly service says the parents had the law on their side.
“According to Russia's advertisement law, it's illegal to discredit parents in the eyes of children. We think this is exactly what the commercial did,” Kashevarov said.
Ilya Novokhatsky is Head of PR at Eldorado, the company that said Santa doesn't exist. He says he still doesn't believe his firm did anything wrong.
“The commercial wasn't intended for children's eyes. Our clients are grown-ups,” Novokhatsky said.
However, some industry watchers say the company behind the ad was the first to benefit from the scandal.
Marketing specialist Dmitry Dobrovolsky said the story generated “lots of media coverage”.
“This is not rare, some companies use petty scandals because it's free advertising,” Dobrovolsky said.
However, Dobrovolsky said banning the ad was wrong.
“We have freedom of speech. No commercial should be banned just because someone doesn't like the fact that Santa Claus is not real,” he said.