Alzheimer's Research UK imagines Christmas without Santa in powerful animated ad

A new campaign for Alzheimer's Research UK imagines a world in which Santa is living with the effects of dementia and has stopped delivering presents to children.

The two-minute animated ad, "Santa forgot", tells the story of a girl called Freya, who grew up after Santa stopped visiting. After being told about his condition by her father, she travels to the North Pole, offers her support andr e-mobilises the redundant elves as researchers, arguing that "if Santa has a disease, research can find a way to fix it".

The film, created by Aardman Animations and narrated by Stephen Fry, aims to highlight the range of symptoms that Alzheimer’s can cause, the social isolation of dementia, and the fact that it can affect anyone – even Santa Claus.

It was created by James Fentiman at Freuds and directed by Åsa Lucander. The media ganecy is Rocket.

Hilary Evans, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: "'Santa forgot' is a poignant and powerful reminder that dementia doesn’t discriminate. We have to be provocative about dementia, to help fight misconceptions and fatalism around the condition and to demonstrate that pioneering research holds the answers.

"Santa is an important cultural figure, but the idea that he too could be affected drives home the point that dementia can strike those most special in our lives.

"We have made enormous strides against diseases like cancer and AIDS, and with the right research we can do the same for dementia. Santa Forgot reminds us to believe in the power of research."

Figures released this week revealed that dementia is now the leading cause of death in the UK; in 2015, 61,000 people died from it, accounting for 11.6% of all deaths in the UK, overtaking heart disease. Although there are other causes of dementia, Alzheimer’s is the most common.

Women are far more likely than men to die from dementia, accounting for just over two thirds of the total deaths. Dementia became the most common cause of death for women in 2012; for men, it is still heart disease.