Is This Christmas Ad a 'Dangerous and Disrespectful Masterpiece'?
The Christmas Truce of 1914 Is Recreated for U.K. Supermarket Sainsbury's
Nov 13, 2014
If the John Lewis Christmas ad brought tears to your eyes, this one from British supermarket chain Sainsbury's might have you in floods.
The supermarket chain continues the U.K.'s run of top-quality holiday advertising with this recreation of the World War I Christmas Day truce that took place in 1914 in the Flanders trenches. The ad, sensitively directed by Ringan Ledwidge for Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, shows the German and British troops singing "Silent Night" on Christmas Eve before one soldier bravely ventures into No Man's Land on Christmas Day. He connects with a German counterpart during the brief truce and famous soccer game, and then later, back in the trenches, finds the fellow soldier slipped him a bar of chocolate. The tagline of the ad reminds us that "Christmas is for sharing."
Sainsbury's made the ad in partnership with the Royal British Legion, the main U.K. veterans' charity, and says it worked closely with historians to make it as accurate as possible and to treat the subject matter with "authenticity and respect." (There's more on this aspect of the production in a making-of film.) The chocolate bar featured in the film will be sold in Sainsbury's stores to raise funds for the Royal British Legion in the run-up to Christmas, with the same period packaging seen in the ad.
So far, comment in the U.K. press has been mainly positive, although some have complained that for a supermarket to associate itself with such subject matter is distasteful. The Mirror asks whether the ad is a "moving tribute or cynical commercial?" while a comment piece in The Guardian called the ad a "dangerous and disrespectful masterpiece."