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Sainsbury’s Christmas ad criticised

21 November 2014

Sainsbury's

Matter of taste: A still from the Sainsbury's Christmas advertisement.

Matter of taste: A still from the Sainsbury's Christmas advertisement.

A PRIEST from West Yorkshire is among at least 240 people who have complained about the Christmas advertisement for the supermarket Sainsbury's.

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 man's land.

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 Legion."

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."

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