A PRIEST from a west London parish and an imam from Leicestershire are starring in this year’s Christmas TV advert for the online retailer Amazon.
The advert, first broadcast during Coronation Street on Wednesday of last week, shows the pair going online to buy each other knee-pads, after joking about how their prayers gave them sore joints. Amazon’s director of advertising, Simon Morris, described it as being about “selflessness and thinking of other people”.
The Vicar of Little Venice, the Revd Gary Bradley, and the Principal of the Muslim School at Oadby, in Leicester, Imam Zubeir Hassam, had to audition for their parts in the 80-second advertisement.
Mr Bradley became involved almost by accident after the ad agency visited his church, St Mary’s, on Paddington Green, looking for locations. “They took my photograph: I had no idea how it would turn out,” he said. “I have seven years to go to retirement, so have plenty of background at being a priest. After all these years you tend to fit into the mould, and I suppose they thought I looked like a vicar — which is reassuring. But at first I thought it was rather a joke when they asked me to take part.”
He said he had not been discouraged by Amazon’s business reputation, believing that the advert’s theme of interfaith unity was more important to convey. “That message was so good, it came before all talk of globalisation and not paying tax,” he said. “It resonates with the way we work in this parish.
“There are many mosques around here and synagogues. Every Christmas we have a service which, although it is a celebration of Christmas, is actually staffed by other faith leaders, and is open to the whole community. We think it is really important that people should know each other. In our parish school we have children of all the world faiths, and each major festival of world religions is celebrated by all the children; so they grow up knowing each other’s views, tolerances, and faiths. It just fits in with the parish ethos.”
He said that the agency had paid him “the Equity minimum . . . So you see, Amazon will be paying taxes: a tiny little bit has gone through me to the Inland Revenue.” He thinks that he earned his fee: “The closing scene, where I sink prayerfully to my knees, took 37 takes. I was glad I was actually wearing the knee-pads.”
Mr Hassam said on Wednesday: “For me, it was just part and parcel of my everyday life in community and extended interfaith work in Leicestershire. I was not put off by Amazon’s reputation. At the back of my mind, I knew that this would bring harmony and interfaith dialogue closer, and make for a better understanding.
“There have been some good comments in the mosque already. Some people have already asked for more details of the knee-pads.”
Watch the advert below: