Christmas TV advertising isn’t generally intended to be divisive. The aim is to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about a brand or a store so you go out and buy a shedload of festive stuff from them. But this year’s Sainsbury’s advert has seriously divided opinions.
Over the weekend I encountered not one but two two heavy debates about it on Facebook from two unrelated friends. One post had 49 comments; the other 36. Both linked back to a piece in The Guardian that offers the opinion that the ad is “a dangerous and disrespectful masterpiece”.
Complaints have flooded in to the Advertising Standards Authority. And yet there is one thing that everyone seems to be agreed upon; that Sainsbury’s has produced a magnificently emotional and poignant piece of film. ‘Beautiful’ is the word I’ve seen a lot, and indeed, used myself. But reading through those two Facebook discussions, it has left many people feeling “uneasy” and “uncomfortable”.
The crux of the debate is that there is a view that Sainsbury’s has used the needless and massive human sacrifice of World War I to flog turkeys and crackers and tinsel. You sit and watch an amazing film based on a true story about being in the trenches at Christmas…and then the Sainsbury’s logo pops up and leaves a taste in your mouth that is more bitter than the special edition chocolate the ad promotes.
Some feel that the ad portrays a sanitised and overly romantic vision of the Great War. As one of my friends said: “The trenches aren’t swimming in faeces. And they all have perfect hair styles. The ground isn’t stained with blood. The good looking soldiers are free from weeping sores.” Quite.
But the opposing view is that, even if it is a ‘clean’ version of war, it shows that that even in the harshest of times, Christmas unites people. Words like “humanity” and “compassion” have been used. Some feel that Sainsbury’s has done a good thing to draw attention to the Great War in centenary year, and that the ad is the antithesis of the ‘overly commercial materialism’ of the other big Christmas ads.
My view? If Sainsbury’s intention was to generate buzz and discussion around the brand, job done. This very blog post is evidence of that. But if it was to make you go out and buy a shedload of seasonal stuff from them, I’m not so sure. What do you think?
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Posted by Paul Sutton