The Sainsbury’s Christmas advert was unveiled mid-November and immediately met with controversy; it certainly divided opinion here at Flourish HQ. Is trench warfare in WWI an appropriate setting in which to convey the ‘spirit of Christmas’? Sainsbury’s certainly thought so.

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(image: sharpmonkeys.co.uk)

The ad itself recreates the famous story of British and German soldiers playing a game of football in no-mans-land during the Christmas Day truce of 1914. It depicts two opposing soldiers meeting, and the British infantryman clandestinely slipping a bar of chocolate into the coat pocket of this counterpart.

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(image: thegrocer.co.uk)

This is where the plot thickens; replica chocolate bars can be purchased in-store for just £1. Now, the cynical amongst us may assert that Sainsbury’s are attempting to cultivate spending by glorifying warfare – but you may not know that all proceeds go to The Royal British Legion, helping to celebrate the 20th year that Sainsbury’s has been working with the charity.

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(image: capitalbay.com)

Sainsbury’s understand that while audiences are clearly receptive to the ‘spirit of Christmas’ (John Lewis’ fuzzy penguins can attest to that), they are also canny. Audiences demand that sentiment is qualified by a sense of authenticity. Sainsbury’s achieve this thanks to their partnership with the British Legion, thus embodying their key message that ‘Christmas is for sharing’.