This November of 2014, in the usual early run-up to the Christmas advertising frenzy (and I do mean ‘frenzy’- this term referring to the rushed absurdity prevalent in promoting the push), there have been the regular additions to the regrettable art form.
These have included the rather sublime idea of inserting a penguin into the scheme of things- meaning that sheer adorability is prevailing as it should not (when the panda’s gone- you really won’t care compared to the loss of your hair, or democracy). Thank you John Lewis.
Another has been the suggestion of ‘Christmas Dinner Tables Across The Nation’- with a cleverly-cut panning shot along several dinner tables- suggesting that Christmas is a time to be around the dinner table eating ‘our’ products with the people you care about, and that if you’re not– then something’s very wrong with you as you’re not part of our advert. Thank you Aldi.
Then Sainsbury’s did something for which I hate them.
And let’s not confuse ourselves with some minor definition, as though I find their actions really rather awkward for me to watch, possibly even to the point of annoyance.
I refer to hate of the romantic kind. I now detest the supermarket brand with a power inconceivable to those persons without any serious genital damage. After another fashion- I hate Sainsbury’s as though they sort to make profit from tales of the actions of my terribly-late ancestors.
The Christmas Day Truce- 1914
On the 24th of December, 1914, a century ago this year, there was a tragically temporary and soul-shakingly inspiring truce between the war-devastated men of Germany, France and Britain for several hours.
The Christmas Day Truce, as it came to be known, began as the realisation of the time of year dawned upon the entrenched soldiers in some field in northern France.
Hearing the German troops singing, the soldiers of all sides came to know that though different words were being sung in strange accents, they were in fact being sung to a comfortingly familiar tune.
There was a great deal of carolling across No Man’s Land on this day.
Time passed, and eventually a German soldier clambered from his hole in the ground, to stand tall as though as natural a thing as breathing-in deeply on a beautiful day, and began calling to the opposing side.
Startling courage, and utterly heart-breaking, when considering the likelihood of murder in the process.
The French and British slowly climbed from their own hellish holes, to stand as men in greeting a friendly neighbour they’d been sharing the same few square meters of land with for the past many weeks.
What followed was a mass evacuation of all trenches, as the soldiers walked through No Man’s Land, to meet their brethren on Christmas Day. The beginning few minutes of awkward niceties gave way to utter unity between all men there, with football being played (score unknown to us and probably debated by those in the know), barbers attending to all customers- no matter the language of their home, and exchanges of gifts, laughter and honest thoughts of the war that each nation’s generals would have ordered execution upon those “stirring up trouble”.
It was fear of this latter aspect of the day, as well as a grotesque concern that the men would not fit back to fighting well following such jovial meetings as football and spirits in No Man’s Land.
Therefore, as the light began to fail, troops from both sides were ordered to return to their trenches; the Truce was over.
Soon after, those troops involved in the Truce were replaced with battle-ready troops fiercely instilled hatred for their opposing nation’s mankind.
The war continued. Several years, and several million deaths down the cold and lonely road, the war came to an end.
The Truce of Christmas Day in 1914, however, was not forgotten.
It was remembered, as it is to this day, as a shining definition of humanity.
The men on that day made a choice, in the midst of horror, chaos and the ugly-probability that your most proximate friend would suddenly explode, to disobey orders and to lay down their arms, shake hands, exchange pleasantries and play football.
Haircuts and fears of not returning home. Madness of war was put aside by some outstandingly courageous men, so as to demonstrate unity as a species.
Note also that this was no event of Christianity ‘poking’ through the fog. This was humanity arching over No Man’s Land, certainly singing Christian hymns, but uniting over circumstance and shared traditions of their homes and their current circumstance across the continent.
They united in hope against our thus-far perpetual insanity of leaders in war, and that is not forgotten.
And this…THIS…is where Sainsbury’s needs to fuck off and read a book.
The Sainsbury’s Foul Forgery
The Sainsbury’s Christmas advert shows handsome, clean and apparently un-embattled men missing their loved ones at home, whilst they sit in a fairly well-kept trench.
One of them opens a care package from home to find a photograph of his best girl back home, and a fucking huge bar of SAINSBURY’s chocolate.
He smiles this tedious little Mona Lisa smile to demonstrate that he’s handsome and just like you…you cute little consumer you.
The hymns are then sung, followed by a BRITISH troop emerging from the trench first, to wish a Merry Christmas to the Germans.
Note, just fucking-well note, that in the Sainsbury’s forgery it is a British soldier to emerge first from the trench. This is historically inaccurate, but having a German being brave and leading the noble way probably wouldn’t have sold so well.
Nor would having the French present either, as no French are apparent throughout.
I feel that either Sainsbury’s doesn’t do business in Germany and France, or that this advert simply won’t be aired there.
From here on the handshaking is shown, the barber giving shaves is displayed, as is the famous game of football.
The day, as in history, comes to an end, and the two sides go back to their holes in in the ground.
A German soldier climbs back down his trench ladder and places his hands in his pocket. In there he finds a fucking huge bar of SAINSBURY’s chocolate.
Then something appears on the screen.
It is a logo.
It is a brand logo.
It says…SAINSBURY’S. #Christmasisforsharing
The revulsion was hard to fight through as I made efforts to vocalise my anger.
Branding The Christmas Truce by Sainsbury’s
In this advertisement Sainsbury’s have taken an astonishing example of humanity in history, in which men laid down their arms to shake hands, have haircuts and play football in the midst of the horror and chaos of war, and Sainsbury’s have smeared their logo over it- claiming this historical event for their own and inserting their own definition of the event over the top.
The meaning of the Christmas Day Truce, in the eyes of Sainsbury’s is: “Buy our shit. We’ve just played a touching piece of historically inaccurate footage prior to our brand name…so buy our shit.
Taking a truly inspiring historical event and smashing their brand name into it is the worst advertising I can think of. Those men that laid down arms to shake hands and play football that day, to later live or die, have been USED by Sainsbury’s to sell turkeys.
Can you think of a time when a company has perpetrated a lowlier act?
This is typical Association Advertising- the motion of airing a piece of footage, often totally un-relatable to the company paying for it, and then ramming a brand/product name on the end of it in the hope that the viewer will remember the name whilst enjoying the emotion instigated by the footage.
This is weak, uncreative, and in this case- thievery.
The Charity Effect- The Buying Of A License To Sell
There are those in favour of the advert.
There are those that feel that since Sainsbury’s are donating a portion of their Christmas profits to a charity dedicated to serving those suffering from the effects of war, that this is all therefore tolerable and decent.
The monetary amount donated to charity is not comparable to the amount of money Sainsbury’s will be making this Christmas.
The effect of the money donated is that Sainsbury’s have bought a licence to brand the historic event with their own name and to play with the facts and the heart of the tale in favour of selling their own Christmas products.
Sainsbury’s here are flogging the cuteness of the humanity out of the Truce so as to flog products. Flogging to flog, as it were.
If Sainsbury’s were donating money purely for the sake of commemorating the Truce and donating money to charity, then they wouldn’t put their brand name on it.
A beautiful event in history has been stolen to sell Christmas products.
It is in no way respecting the event- it’s about nothing but profit- otherwise they WOULD NOT HAVE DONE IT.
Sainsbury’s wouldn’t hashtag #christmasissharing, they wouldn’t put their name in the commercial and they wouldn’t alter historical facts for any reason other than to use the event for profit.
“The Christmas Day Truce- brought to you by Sainsbury’s two for one Christmas Crackers and Party Food.” Eeeew.
This is nothing but the most cheap and lowly thievery of an inspirational event that belonged to all of us…and still does.
From Here Onward
Now, I am extremely hurt by Sainsbury’s- but that is irrelevant.
I do not want that advert banned, nor do I wish to receive an apology from Sainsbury’s supermarkets.
However, I do feel that due is an apology to those simple men whose actions prior to their deaths have inspired people around the world for 100 years, and whose deaths Sainsbury’s have used to encourage greed and profit.
I will no longer enter a Sainsbury’s as I can Taste the Difference in morals here and there is a distinct muddiness that goes even deeper than that on the boots of the boys in their holes.
All that is left is to remember that the Christmas Day Truce is ours- being as it is a beautiful example of dignified humanity that must be taught to all. No generation must suffer to go without this essential demonstration of unity in the face of dictated madness.
And no company can claim what belongs to us all.
The Christmas Day Truce is OURS. And we will never forget it.