Sainsbury’s has gone all guns blazing with this year’s Christmas advert. The supermarket isn’t a traditional participant in the annual Christmas ad-off with the likes of M&S and John Lewis being the usual big players, so this advert came as quite a surprise.
Teaming up with the Royal British Legion, the charity behind the annual poppy campaign, the Sainsbury’s advert retells the historic First World War battlefield Christmas truce. The ad is close to four minutes in length and features opposing British and German soldiers emerging from their respective trenches to exchange greetings and gifts, before a game of football breaks out. Following the resumption of hostilities further down the line, it culminates in the central German soldier of the film finding a chocolate bar in his coat pocket that the main British protagonist had quietly placed in there as he handed it back to him post football. The British solder had himself received it as a gift from home, which played in to the theme of the ad which was ‘Christmas is a time for sharing’.
Sainsbury’s has really played the emotive card with this campaign, from the choice of music to the sincerity of the soldiers. After viewing it I felt an overwhelming sense of patriotism and an ability to emotionally connect with the characters in the ad. It certainly moved me and tugged at the heartstrings.
However, this hasn’t been the case for everyone. There has been criticism that Sainsbury’s is ‘cashing in on a conflict’ through the exploitation of this historic tragedy in order to boost profits. Despite some negative responses, I think Sainsbury’s has handled it well, using a positive message behind this campaign that #ChristmasIsForSharing. This was represented by the British and German soldier laying down their arms and coming together on mutual grounds to share stories, gifts and a game of football. It’s a poignant reminder of the events and sacrifices that our troops made 100 years ago.
Sainsbury’s is using a different tactic than that of the sales-driven competitors such as John Lewis who look to make internal profits through campaign-specific merchandise. The chocolate bar that plays a prominent part in the advert will be sold in Sainsbury’s stores with the full £1 profit going to the veteran’s charity. Although Sainsbury’s may benefit from an increased footfall in store, it isn’t making £95 a time from sales of a stuffed animal (no names mentioned!).
Great Job Sainsbury’s – let the battle of the Christmas ads commence!