Waitrose cuts farmer suntan scene from TV ad after complaints

Waitrose has reworked its Christmas TV advert after it sparked criticism from cancer charities for scenes showing farmworkers comparing suntans.

The commercial showed the workers as they progressed through the different stages of the food production year.

In one scene, the farmers pulled up their T-shirt sleeves to reveal the contrast between dark- and light-coloured skin – seemingly competing over who had the best tan.

However, the attempt at mild humour backfired and the retailer was accused of “glorifying” suntans.

See also: How farmers can deal with mental health at times of pressure

Cancer charity Melanoma UK said the advert failed to highlight the dangers of sun exposure, adding that “Waitrose should do better than this”.

“Just as we wouldn’t laugh at an advertisement that glorifies smoking, nor should we do the same about tanning,” a spokeswoman for the charity said.

She added that organisations should not use examples of tanning in their advertising unless they warned of the dangers of overexposure to the sun.

Others took to social media, including skin cancer sufferers, who branded the advert “highly insensitive” and a “kick in the teeth”.

Apology issued

The suntan scene has now been deleted and Waitrose has issued an apology.

“Our advertisement celebrates the care and effort that our partners and real farmers – who work in all weathers – put in to make sure our customers have what they need for Christmas.

“While we included some light-hearted and ‘true-to-life’ moments, we’ve listened to the comments made about the serious message of sun safety and will be using an updated version of the ad to address these concerns.”

Earlier this year, Farm Safety Foundation manager Stephanie Berkeley highlighted the dangers of working outdoors when UV levels can be at their highest.

Farmworkers have the second-highest death rate from skin cancers after construction workers, Ms Berkeley said.

About one in 10 of all new cancers caused by solar radiation were among farmworkers, and one farmworker dies each month as a result of exposure to UV rays at work, she added.