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Santa Gives More to Rich Kids Than Poor Kids (2005)

Photo: Neil McKie

This was part of my Fine Art, (Environmental Art) degree show at Glasgow School of Art.


Originally I was going to put up a billboard with Maiden Outdoor, advertising directly to both children and adults, telling them some unsettling truths about Santa Claus. (For more on my justification for this project click here.) I had the poster printed, (£130) and ready for posting. Then the day before it was to go up, I got a phone call from Maiden: Due to the press finding out (via the press release I had sent out,) and the fact it was such a "contentious" issue, the board was not going up, end of story.

The newspapers thought the story had legs though. The guy at Maiden I had been organising it with, who had been really nice up until that point, now hated me. On the day the poster was meant to go up the papers ran the story, he rang & grimly told me to enjoy my 15 minutes of fame.

I rang around for a couple of weeks looking for another company with no luck. The last name on my list was Clear Channel. They're the world's largest owner of billboards and hardly likely to step into something that had already generated 'controversy' in the press the first time around. 

Bizarrely though they said yes, were really lovely and even offered me a choice of sites. I didn't push my luck by asking them if they were aware of the newspaper coverage. I was just glad to get my degree show back on track. 

Reaction online was and still has been staggering. I received emails from all over the world including, my favourite, one from a Native American Chief, supporting my efforts. And a few whimsical death threats and Gas Price Forum members debating whether I should be burnt or decapitated first.