Waitrose’s Christmas advert, which shows how farmers work all year to provide us with our festive food, is the latest corporate initiative to spark a massive online backlash.
The ad, which at one point shows two farmers comparing suntans as they work in the blazing sun, has drawn criticism from skin cancer sufferers.
Skin cancer charity Melanoma UK said: "Waitrose can do better than this.”
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“Many organisations have used examples of tanning in their advertising,” the organisation tweeted. “Unless they are doing this responsibly and warning of the dangers of overexposure to the sun, then they need to stop it.
Gill Nuttall, the charity’s chief executive, told the BBC it was time "everyone started to look at skin cancer with their eyes wide open".
"The comparing of tans dates back many years, before we knew better," she said.
One Facebook commenter, who said she had been a melanoma sufferer, replied to Waitrose’s video: “Please remove the piece with the two farmers comparing suntans. It's inappropriate with the increased numbers of people being diagnosed with melanoma. That is not a disease where the nasty bit is cut out and you're fine.
“This country needs so much more awareness of melanoma especially with increased temperatures.”
“As a melanoma sufferer," she added, "I feel laughed at and belittled. You're joking about something that could kill me.”
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A Waitrose spokesperson responded: “I'm so sorry for what you're going through and that our ad has affected you so deeply. We'd never laugh at, or belittle such a serious matter.
“The basis of the ad is to show the year round effort behind our Christmas products, and interactions between real farmers. We fully support sun safety and worked with a medic on set throughout the filming.
“They made sure everyone wore high factor sun protection, and gave advice to help our farmers stay safe in the sun. Please be assured your comments have been fed back to the team.”
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Not everyone was offended by the ad. Some thought the criticism was going too far, with one Twitter user commenting: “It appears we are no longer allowed to talk about, share pictures of or enjoy getting a suntan. I feel sorry for Waitrose, they did nothing wrong, yet a cancer charity decided to capitalise on their advertising.”
However, Dr Mark Anderson commented: “I know the criticism of the Waitrose ad has itself been criticised as the world gone mad. And I can see that point of view.
"But all I can say is that the advert does hit differently when you have watched someone die from metastasised malignant melanoma.”
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