Is This Christmas Ad a 'Dangerous and Disrespectful Masterpiece'?

The Christmas Truce of 1914 Is Recreated for U.K. Supermarket Sainsbury's

Published on Nov 13, 2014

Editor's Pick

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."

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Nov 13, 2014
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO London
Media Agency:
Ringan Ledwidge
Creative Director:
Alex Grieve
Creative Director:
Adrian Rossi
Creative Director:
Michael Durban
Creative Director:
Tony Strong
Tim Riley
Art Director:
Tim Riley
Agency Planner:
Cat Wiles
Agency Planner:
Craig Mawdsley
Agency Account Man:
Gareth Collins
Agency Account Man:
Gemma Findlay
Agency Account Man:
Richard Moloney
Agency Account Man:
Pippa Hardingham
Agency Producer:
Rebecca Scharf
Agency Producer:
Nikki Holbrow
Agency Producer:
Kate O'Mulloy
Media Planner:
Anna Hancock
Media Planner:
Charlotte Wells
Media Planner:
Jackie Lyons
Media Planner:
Chris Magniac
Production Company:
Rattling Stick
Production Company Producer:
Sally Humphries
Production Company Producer:
James Hatcher
Post-Production Company:
The Mill
Andrew Wood
Rich Orrick
Aubrey Wodiwiss@ Electric Theatre Collective
Audio Post-Production:
Audio Post-Production:
Aaron Reynolds
Audio Post-Production:
Woodwork Music

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