A PRIEST from West Yorkshire is among at least 240 people who
have complained about the Christmas advertisement for the
The Revd Nicholas Clews, Priest-in-Charge at St Margaret of
Antioch, Thornbury, and St James the Great, Woodhall, in the
diocese of Bradford, lodged a formal protest with the Advertising
Standards Authority "within ten minutes" of seeing the TV
commercial. It is based on a truce that took place at Christmas,
1914, when British and German troops fraternised briefly in no
The long advert (it lasts three minutes, 41 seconds) ends with a
young Tommy slipping a chocolate bar he has only just received from
home into the pocket of an equally fresh-faced German. The final
shot is the caption "Christmas is for Sharing", and then
"Sainsbury's". Similar chocolate bars are on sale in Sainsbury's,
with half of the £1 price going to the Royal British Legion.
Mr Clews said: "I think it trivialises the suffering of World
War One, and in many ways misses the point about the significance
of what happened on Christmas Day 1914 [which] was that a chance
for peace was missed. It's a tragedy. For a day: those soldiers
realised they were human beings, and they shared that humanity.
That's a tremendous message for Christmas; but the significance of
Christmas is that it's not about a day, it's about life."
The head of brand communications at Sainsbury's, Mark Given,
said that the supermarket had been "delighted with the
overwhelmingly positive response" from customers and colleagues.
They had worked with the Legion, he said, "to ensure we tell this
story with authenticity and respect". They were selling about 5000
chocolate bars every hour: "We are very proud of the work we've
done in the creation of this campaign to support the Royal British
A spokeswoman for the Legion said: "We recognise that people are
entitled to their opinions, but we saw the advert in advance, and
we are quite happy with it."
A spokeswoman for the Advertising Standards Authority said that
they had received 240 complaints by last Friday. "We will not
release the final total until we have considered the complaints and
decided whether to act or reject them."