About that Terrible UNICEF-Sweden Santa Ad

This Christmas-themed ad is pretty awful.

Before we pile on UNICEF, it’s worth pointing out that this ad did not come from UNICEF.  Rather, the ad is for UNICEF-Sweden. This is an important distinction. The way UNICEF works is that funding for children’s health and welfare programs around the world comes from the voluntary contributions of donor countries; Governments contribute on an annual basis to help vaccinate children, construct schools in refugee camps, and bring clean water to kids.

Because ordinary people are generous and like to help kids,  citizens of these countries also like to contribute to UNICEF on top of what their governments already contribute. The thing is, you can’t just mail a check to UN headquarters in New York, so several countries have set up committees to collect donations from their citizens. Trick or Treat for UNICEF is actually a UNICEF-USA (and UNICEF-Canada) program.  So was that big fundraiser with all the celebs in New York last week.

That was not UNICEF, but “UNICEF-USA.”  (And as a bonus for Americans: contributions to UNICEF-USA are tax deductible!)

This terrible ad was made by Swedes for Swedes. People’s ire should be directed at UNICEF-Sweden, not UNICEF headquarters in New York. But don’t be angry for too long, please. Bad TV ads aside, Sweden is a very generous donor to UNICEF’s life-saving work around the world.