Trump Administration’s Santa-Themed $250 Million Coronavirus Ad Campaign Scrapped

Trump Administration’s Santa-Themed $250 Million Coronavirus Ad Campaign Scrapped

The Department of Health and Human Services said Friday it would no longer be pursuing an advertising campaign designed to “defeat despair” regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan, conceived by Trump appointee Micheal Caputo, who took a medical leave last month, wanted “Santa performers to promote the benefits of a Covid-19 vaccination,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The government would in turn provide them with “early vaccine access ahead of the general public.”

Caputo said he envisioned Santas to appear at events in 35 cities, with elves and Mrs. Claus included.

“If you and your colleagues are not essential workers, I don’t know what is,” Caputo told Ric Erwin, chairman of hte Fraternal Order of Read Bearded Santas, in an August phone call.

In September, Politico first reported on the campaign, which drew criticism for its perceived political nature. This led to some celebrities, like actor Dennis Quaid, bailing on the project.

William Vaillancourt

William Vaillancourt

William Vaillancourt is a writer and editor from New Hampshire whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Progressive, Slate and Areo Magazine, among other places. He holds a BA in Political Science and History from Boston University.