Christmas Commercial Brings Tears and Condemnation

World War I is long past, but its impact has had far reaching effects on our politics and our world. World War II grew out of it, and we know what kind of world we were left with in its wake.

Films written against the backdrop of the First World War abound. Some are about the war and others tell story during the period of the war:

And so many more too numerous to list.

None of the above films are about the glories of war. There are none.

This Christmas season, Sainsbury’s has produced a commercial that is causing some controversy. Sainsbury’s is the third largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. The commercial “depicts the 1914 Christmas Truce, when soldiers stopped killing each other for a few hours to celebrate the holiday together in no man’s land.”

“The commercial has sparked debate on whether it is appropriate for corporations to use sensitive national history for commercial use. The issue is all the more delicate as the country marks 100 years since World War I began — a months-long national moment of soul searching highlighted by sombre ceremonies, intense media coverage and crowded exhibitions.


“The commercial has sparked at least 240 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, which is considering an investigation after viewers objected to using the war to promote a company. While it’s not the first time war has formed the backdrop for an ad, previous efforts tended to be light-hearted.”

You’ll have to decide for yourself. Watch what I believe is a touching video depicting how ordinary men are conscripted to kill one another in a war they didn’t start and probably have no idea what’s behind the war.

“The commercial features a dusting of snow and choruses of ‘Silent Night’ in English and German.” The tune that plays as the soldiers meet in “no man’s land,” the area of land between the British and German trench systems, is “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” establishing a stark contrast between the horrors of trench warfare and memories of home and family:

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What are your thoughts? Did Sainsbury’s cross the line? It sure is better than the homosexual marriage proposal in a recent Android commercial.

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