Christmas is an important time for retailers: they have the build up toward the big day, jostling for position to convince you to buy your gifts from their establishments. Then there’s Boxing Day sales, which aren’t as big a deal as they used to be with the increase in online sales and the adoption of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In order to tempt you into shopping heaven various elaborate, beautiful and, frankly, expensive television adverts are produced all with the aim of separating you from from your cash money.
The Christmas advert has become somewhat of a tradition and this Christmas, there have been several adverts that have been widely covered in the media. Probably most famous is the John Lewis Christmas advert; over the past few years it’s been the benchmark that all other adverts are compared against. This year saw a dog on a trampoline, which captured the hearts of the nation. But not to be outdone, fashion retailer H&M drafted in none other than Wes Anderson himself to direct Adrien Brody on a magical looking train. Waitrose’s ad sees a robin flying across country to meet up with another robin for Christmas dinner. Marks and Spencer’s sees Mrs Claus take to the skies herself to help a little boy replace some destroyed shoes. All very heartwarming.
Then there’s supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. Their advert is superbly put together, stop motion animation teamed with host/comedian James Corden singing the advert’s song. The story is the important part, however. The theme is of a father who works a lot and never spends time at home – he attempts to find a way of splitting his time between the two unsuccessfully. Until he realises he can’t and so decides not to work and to spend Christmas with his family. This is a heart-warming advert, which might be why Sainsbury’s are so surprised that people hate it.
It’s not that people hate the content, nor the sentiment. They hate the fact that the advert doesn’t match the morals of the retailer. Almost immediately, viewers took to Twitter to ask the retailer if they’d be closing on Boxing Day to allow their staff to follow the example of the advert, to allow their staff to spend time with their family on December 26th, despite the fact it will be one of the biggest shopping days of the year. People seem to have become angered at Sainsbury’s’ decision to not practice what they preach. This isn’t the first year that Sainsbury’s’ advert has annoyed the British public: a few years ago the store produced a Christmas advert set during the World War One truce, where each trench laid down weapons and played football. This led to accusations that the supermarket was using the first World War as a advertising tool
The advert, which was on rather frequently when it first was released, seems to have been dialled back a lot and I’ve not seen it at all since those first days. Perhaps Sainsbury’s need to take another look at their HR strategy or just think about their marketing a bit better.