Sunday, 16 November 2014

Sainsburys Christmas Advert 2014

Last night during the X-Factor my twitter feed blew up with opinions on the new Sainsbury's Christmas advert for this year. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's in association with the Royal British Legion and focuses on the 1914 football game played between German and British Troops; otherwise known as The Christmas Truce. Opinions about the advert seem to widely vary - whilst some found it emotional, touching and beautiful - some condemned it for just that; supposedly beautifying war.

Now, don't get me wrong; the war was (it goes without saying) in no way beautiful. The First World War was trench warfare, many soldiers died, not only from enemy gunfire or attacks but from infections that spread quickly through such close quarters, cholera and complications stemming from trench foot. Some argued that if Sainsbury's were showing war as it really was, rats would be eating the flesh of dead soldiers left to rot on the sidelines, that soldiers would be bloody, tired and dazed. They're not wrong, the war depicted was like every other war ever fought - horrifying and destructive, brutal and gory - but, and maybe I'm the only one thinking it, that's simply not the point of the advert. We see two young boys, scared and probably far from home fighting for a cause it's likely that neither of them understood. It was widely believed the war would be over and troops would be home by Christmas and these boys and men never thought that they would be there, on the front line, instead of at home opening presents with their families.

The men depicted might not be real, but thousands of Soldiers on December 25th 1914 were just like them; scared, young (some even too young to have signed up to the army in the first place) and a long, long way from their family homes on such an important day. The advert isn't meant to show how horrendous the war was, it is meant to recreate just the tiniest fraction of how that Christmas Truce must have felt to the men on the front line - in my eyes, it's meant to replicate on some tiny scale how Christmas must have felt to those boys; how getting the present of human decency, of a chance to forget the horror that they had seen for just a few minutes and to replicate some part of the life waiting for them back at home was more than they ever could have hoped for. It is watching the war how it must have seemed for soldiers on that day - not as two separate enemy sides but as boys that could have grown up side by side with one another had things been slightly different. The war was definitely not beautiful - but the Truce that happened that day and allowed a game of football to occur in the very piece of land both sides feared so greatly? I think it's hard to deny that that in itself definitely was. Some have argued that using the war as a supposed marketing ploy is tacky and inappropriate, but that's not how I see this. Sainsbury's have taken an important event, on an important year marker and made it relevant and a way to help such an important cause, and perhaps even a reminder of those still serving for us this holiday season. Sainsbury's have caught the moment in a tasteful and hearbreaking way, and if I can buy a chocolate bar like that in the advert and know that 50p from every sale goes to a member of our armed forces, perhaps on a front line himself or herself on Christmas Day this year? I'll be adding one to my basket.

Was did you think of the Sainsbury's Christmas Advert?

Sammy xo.

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