Should Macy’s pull its Santa ad and apologize?

Yes, Jeff, there is a Santa Claus.

And Macy’s can prove it.

We see all sorts of consumer complaints here, but Jeff Loiselle’s recent request is a first. He contacted us and asked us to help him get a Macy’s ad pulled. Why? Because he thinks the ad campaign is “awful” and has caused his three-year-old to — gasp — ask him if Santa Claus is real.

Loiselle also wants an apology from Macy’s.

An ad campaign that encourages little children to question Santa’s existence? Of course, we were as outraged as Loiselle. So, we raced to the internet to see this irreverent commercial. We will come back to the commercial in a moment.

Questioning Santa’s existence is nothing new. In fact, the most public questioning of Santa’s actuality was in 1897 when eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, discouraged by her friends’ insistence that Santa was not real, wrote a letter to The New York Sun. Her father told her that if she saw something written in the New York Sun, that would prove its truth. So, she asked the very question: “Is there a Santa Claus?”

What resulted was a beautifully written published response from the editor: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

The editor explained to Virginia that her little friends have been “affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe what they do not see.”

I would suggest that with the internet inundating our lives, the skeptical age has exploded.

For his part, Santa has never publicly attempted to prove his reality. Presumably, he is much too busy running his affairs in the North Pole to fight against this “Santa Does Not Exist” propaganda. And the fact that he has always maintained that children must be asleep “all snug in their beds” when he arrives, also bolsters his mystery.

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Although, we would have to agree that on a practical level, this policy makes a lot of sense. You can only imagine how long his Christmas Eve route would take if he needed to stop and make a little idle chitchat with each family. If everyone is asleep, that problem is easily solved.

Now, back to Loiselle’s concerns about the Macy’s ads. The ad campaign is called: #SantaProject: Our Movement to Keep the Magic of Santa Claus Alive. I watched the ads and did not agree with Loiselle’s negative perception of the campaign. While it does acknowledge that children are being exposed to information on the internet, and elsewhere, that Santa doesn’t exist, the goal of the campaign is to prove that he does exist.

The commercial starts out with children of various ages and ethnicities explaining who Santa is and what they love about him. Later in the commercial they express concerns about the things that they have seen on the internet telling them that Santa doesn’t exist. They show one child typing “Does Santa exist?” into his phone.

Other children complain of fake videos they have seen on the internet that say Santa is pretend. And one little girl tells us that she has “about 1000” people who said he isn’t real. All this negativity does not seem to sway the children’s beliefs, but they do appear to feel bad for Santa that he has to endure this cynicism.

Macy’s has a solution to all this negativity on the internet concerning Santa’s existence. The commercial states that “Macy’s Believes in Santa.” They suggest that the internet be flooded with stories, pictures, tweets, videos that confirm a belief in Santa. The idea is that when children do an internet search for “Does Santa Exist?” they will encounter all of the information that is hashtagged #SantaProject.

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The commercial ends with the children happily giving clear evidence that Santa exists by explaining that on Christmas morning the cookies that were left in the kitchen for Santa are eaten and that the milk carton is empty. Who can argue with these facts?

A current Google search of #SantaProject reveals thousands of submissions on a variety of social media platforms.

Naturally, there will be many who say that children should not be on the internet unsupervised at an age when they would be asking such a question as “Does Santa Exist?” But, the ad campaign can be used with parental guidance to help reinforce your family’s holiday traditions that involve Santa.

Loiselle took to our forums to elaborate his complaint. He said his daughter didn’t really understand the commercial and, at the conclusion, her take was that the kids were saying that “Santa isn’t real.” She is three years old and she misunderstood the message.

But a three-year-old misunderstanding a message is certainly not uncommon. That is why children have parents to help guide them and correct misunderstandings at this age, especially while watching TV. Loiselle says he “used some quick thinking” and handled his daughter’s question, but was angry at Macy’s for putting him in that position.

As parents ourselves, we feel for Loiselle. We also know that this will not be the last time that his child asks him an unexpected or startling question that will need quick parental explanation. It’s par for the course in parenting.

We find the concept of Macy’s ad to be heartwarming and the premise is sweet and innocent. Macy’s believes. Not just in Santa, but in the spirit of the holidays and magic of the season. Macy’s wants children to see positive Santa-related stories on the internet.

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So, we will have to place Loiselle’s request in the Case Dismissed file, and we may even add this story to the #SantaProject — depending on how the poll goes.

Is Santa real?

View Results

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a consumer advocate, writer and licensed clinical social worker who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. As the managing director of, she leads the advocacy, editorial and production departments. Read more of Michelle's articles here.

  • Reporter1

    I also disagree with Loiselle’s understanding of the commercial. I loved this commercial. Anyway, everyone knows Santa is real!

  • Mel65

    As my husband STILL says to our children who are all over 18: “Santa is real; he may not wear a red suit, and fly with reindeer, but there IS a man who with his Mrs. Claus brings you presents and makes Christmas special.”

  • Rebecca

    Of all the things to worry about a toddler stumbling upon online, this is what someone is concerned about? My 2 year old uses her tablet to watch videos sometimes – which was great when we had a long drive to grandmas recently. I was shocked when a video on YouTube Kids (which is supposed to filter out anything remotely even pg13) depicted 2 popular sets of characters from Nick Jr getting into various compromising positions and humping each other. I was more shocked someone took the time to make said video than the fact it made it through the filters, but I digress.

    I have to admit I’m biased. I’m one of those parents that doesn’t do the Santa/Easter Bunny/fantasy character thing. We raise our kids agnostic, for all intents and purposes we’re athiests. Not to say we don’t celebrate Christmas, just that we don’t do the religion thing. My perspective is that I just don’t want to teach my kids to believe in fictional characters, although I respect other people DO celebrate differently.

    I’ve worried about this already in the sense that I don’t want my kids to spoil it for someone else’s that has different beliefs. I can certainly appreciate why that would anger someone. I don’t know that there’s necessarily a simple answer. Other than to pay attention to what your kids watch and see, and to explain your own beliefs and teach them to respect the beliefs of others.

    Certainly instead of complaining about the source (because there’s always going to be something that goes against your value system that sneaks through, no matter how hard you try), it’s better to use that opportunity to encourage questions and explain your own values? Just as someone else has a problem explaining belief in Santa, someone on my end of the spectrum has a problem explaining what people mean when they say a dead person is an angel/up in heaven (which we don’t believe in). There’s simply always going to be something, and complaining about it won’t help. It’s best to use these moments as an opportunity by putting it in context and trying to teach your children your own value system.

  • Dutchess

    I think Loiselle shouldn’t use the TV to educate his daughter, instead of coming to whine and complain about the content of a TV commercial, why not use that time actually…you know…productively and talk to your kid and explain to them that not everything you see on TV and read on the internet is real and how to use critical thinking skills (explaining cookies get eaten, milk drank). This could have been a really positive learning experience for his kid but instead she’s now going to see Dad do something completely unproductive and will be a learning experience of a completely different variety. Sounds like dad is the one who could use the course in critical thinking.

  • mbods2002

    Poor Jeff Loiselle, he has WAY too much time on his hands. Children question everything, just make sure you have the right answers! Of course Santa is real. Those that don’t believe, don’t get good presents, they get pajamas and socks etc. Also, if you don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy, say goodbye to the cash under your pillow. Smart kids believe until they leave home for good. ha!

  • Angelic2032

    I wish I could have captured how broad my smile was when I voted that Santa is, indeed, real…and saw the rest of the results. Merry Christmas everyone :)

  • Emily Coltman

    That’s beautiful!

  • Chris_In_NC

    Seriously? Welcome to parenting. Its how you respond that demonstrates your skill in parenting. What happens when your child encounters other similar situations in real life?

  • ctporter

    Imagination and Hope are my biggest reasons to encourage the belief in something that cannot be seen (leap of faith) . Using our imagination starts as children, with beliefs in things such as Santa, tooth fairy, etc. which fosters that stretch of our minds, not to be limited by the knowledge of “facts”. It is how innovation happens. It also provides a way to hope, to hope for better things especially when life is tough. Hope can make hardships bearable, it creates the belief that life will not always be so hard, that it will get better. When the world has become a hard place, we need to hope that somehow a miracle will happen, that our “Santa” will come and bring what we need to ease our way even if just for a moment. Hope and imagination at work.

  • DChamp56

    Of course Santa Claus is real. As real as love, kindness, happiness and the spirit of giving.

  • greg watson

    WOW ! ……….. almost not worth discussing ………….. as long as goodness, decency, kindness & affection are alive………..then so is Santa !!

  • sirwired

    If an ad mentioning Santa sends the OP into such a state, just wait until the kid sees an ad for birth control and asks how [product] is supposed to keep the stork away.


  • Bill___A

    I was wondering even what to say about this, but you said it well.

  • Annie M

    One of the most ridiculous requests I have seen here. At one time or another almost every child questions whether Santa is real or not. If she had come home from day care and said a kid told him Santa isn’t real, what would the answer be? I a more offended by ED commercials and having to explain THAT to a kid.

  • Annie M

    If we didn’t believe in things we can’t see, God would sure be in trouble.

  • Rebecca

    Or viagra. Those are borderline creepy sometimes.

  • Vicki

    If this is Jeff Loiselle’s reaction to a commercial that led his daughter to ask “is Santa real?” before he was prepared for that talk, I strongly recommend that he get rid of his television–which will lead to much more difficult questions about things like the news–and take a parenting class or two.

    It’s bad enough he would object to someone going on television and saying “Santa isn’t real.” But he’s objecting to his daughter being told that yes, Santa is real, because he can’t cope with her knowing that not everyone agrees with that. Not everyone believes in Santa, there are people who don’t think her Mommy is the most beautiful woman in the world, and some weirdos actually like Brussels sprouts.

  • PsyGuy

    Silly grownups, somethings need to be believed to be seen, like love, hope, kindness, and compassion.

  • PsyGuy

    Santa’s not fictional.

  • PsyGuy

    Excellent timing with the recent VS fashion show.

  • EvilEmpryss

    Sigh. Another parent upset that something in the big bad world made their child question something, and they had to actually step up and — le gasp! — do some parenting rather than expect their children to take everything they’ve told them in the past as unquestionable gospel.

    Kids question stuff. It’s what they do. Parents must be prepared to tackle questions that come from out of the blue. Even if they make the parent uncomfortable.

  • sam

    As someone who grew up “without” Santa, because my family is not christian, can I just say that this guy needs to chill?

    First, even if his kids misinterpret the commercial and somehow get the message that Santa isn’t real, they’ll survive. Plenty of us Jews do (as well as Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Janes, Zoroastrians, Atheists, and other people who don’t tell their kids that gifts come from a guy in a red suit and a bunch of reindeer).

    Second, since when did one person’s inability to understand a commercial message (or a three-year olds?) get to dictate an ad campaign? I’m not going to be one of those people that says “how dare he let his kid watch TV”, because even I, as a spinster cat lady, get that parenting is hard and sometimes you have to resort to hypnotizing the kid with the television so that you can just wash some dishes or do some other basic functions, but it’s not on mass media, or commercials, to replace your parenting. If you don’t want your kid watching commercials, put on PBS, or DVR/DVD something kid-friendly.

    Third, even as someone who grew up with parents who had to explain pretty early that Santa was a fraud perpetuated on those nice christian kids by their parents and *that’s* why he didn’t visit our house, I thought this was a pretty fun, clever commercial, both playing off of the original “Yes, Virginia” message, the “Miracle on 34th Street” message, AND today’s internet hoaxmonster culture.

  • Mel65

    I threatened my 18 year old that if he didn’t tell me what he wanted for Christmas he was getting socks and underwear. My twenty-six-year-old piped up and said when you get to be my age believe me socks and underwear are a luxury as a gift and you will want them!

  • joycexyz

    What an absurd complaint! I think it’s a beautiful commercial. Apparently Dad doesn’t like having conversations with his daughter.

  • Rebecca

    One of my very favorite things in the whole world is new socks. I always say that if I won the lottery, that’s the one thing I would do. Buy a package of white socks from target (socks are socks, don’t need to be fancy) every week and never wear them twice!

  • mbods2002

    LOL..personally, I’d like Santa to bring me a bottle of Grand Marnier. I still have the snifters he gave me last year, so we’re all set there..ha!

  • mbods2002

    So funny! Ya’ll love your socks! OK, OK, I like socks too, patterned ones and of course HOLIDAY ones. :D

  • pauletteb

    I feel VERY sorry for this man!

  • pauletteb


  • Mel LeCompte Jr.

    My three-year old doesn’t understand something seen on the internet and I am OUTRAGED!!! Somebody must pay for this.

  • Susan Liberantowski

    my family members are always asking me to give them socks….I hand knit them. The ultimate luxury.

  • bpepy

    Many years ago when our children were 1,3 and 5, we were going to the grandparent’s for Christmas. I said I needed something mailed at the post office, so all the kids were in the car and off my husband went. He returned and picked me up and we were off to Grandma’s. Lo and behold, when we arrived home several days later, there in our living room under the tree, were a small red bike for the 5 year-old, a hot wheels for the 2 year-old and a push cart for the 1 year-old! The 5 year-old, who had been beginning to doubt, became a great believer in Santa!

  • Tricia K

    I love this ad! I think people need to be reminded of the magic of the season, and Santa is one way. When my son was old enough to question Santa’s existence but my daughter was not, I warned him he could easily find out how real Santa was if he ruined it for his sister in the form of no presents. I explained to him that part of the magic of the season is helping others believe, even when you don’t.

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