In order to flog their produce, Sainsbury’s have disrespected millions who suffered in the trenches with their new Christmas advert.
This centennial year, 2014, has been about remembering those who fell during the Great War. To celebrate this occasion, Sainsbury’s have released a Christmas advert recreating the Christmas Day truce. There is no doubt that the cinematography is outstanding. The short video is able to encompass and convey such an array of deep emotion. Watching this video brought a tear to my eye. So what’s the problem I hear you ask?
Well, after all the effect and sentiment that the advert portrays wears off, I begin to realise the ultimate objective here; for this supermarket to sell us their produce. This is an ‘advert’ after all. It is difficult in this day and age to encourage people, especially the younger generations to think about what happened during those war years. The lives that were so courageously sacrificed so we could be here today.
Upon seeing this advert for the first time, I thought, ‘Finally, a breakthrough’! A short, yet powerful clip, which is deeply emotional and encourages the audience to reflect on history. I quickly came to realise that Sainsbury’s is using this advert for a reason… to sell (Durrrrrr…).
The video sensationalises the horrors that were inflicted upon the soldiers in those trenches. During the clip there are no traces of terror that one would expect to find. You will not see sick and dying men lying in the trenches, nor the hordes of rats that feasted upon these men, to say the least. I know it has been a hundred years but surely these crucial elements haven’t been forgotten?
Yes, I agree it is a Christmas advert and thus these things would be entirely inappropriate, but that is why this video is inappropriate. The directors have glamourised this event in history and have poetically misrepresented those that died. We are not to look back on history and think, ‘Oh how sweet, the two enemies played football on Christmas day.’ Yes, it was a moving episode during the war. It showed those soldiers as young men who just wanted to enjoy Christmas day like they usually would. It showed the immense courage it took to throw down the metaphoric gauntlet. But that is not what they should be remembered for. They should be remembered for the hardship they had to endure, the sacrifices they had to make and the incomprehensible degree of violence, both physical and mental, that was inflicted upon all individuals.
Exploiting the First World War for commercial gain is crass. Getting the public to think about WWI in this way is emotional exploitation, targeting us through this medium so we shop at their stores this holiday. I am not disparaging the advert entirely, maybe the tone of the advert should go along the lines of:
‘Without these soldiers you wouldn’t be here this Christmas’
Remember those who sacrificed their Christmas so you could have yours’
A bit hard hitting I know, however at least we would think, ‘Shit, that’s a good point’. Instead the public, especially the young, could have this misconception that WWI ‘wasn’t so bad after all’, which is absurd.
For me, Monty the penguin wins every time.