Did you see the Sainsbury’s Christmas television advert featuring the legendary Christmas truce that happened at various locations along the Western Front in December 1914? Whether you saw it or not, you probably will have heard some of the controversy it aroused. The advert, and more importantly the discussion around it, provided a great case study for our first class examining the history and memory of the First World War and generated a lot of debate. Here are the links we used, with a couple more we didn’t have time for:
- Sainsbury’s Christmas advert webpage, which contains links to the ad itself and the background to its making
- An excellent, concise examination of ‘what really happened’ in Christmas 1914 from BBC iWonder
- A viewpoint from Ally Fogg in the Guardian, who described the advert as ‘a dangerous and disrespectful masterpiece’
- The Telegraph, ‘Sainsbury’s moving 2014 Christmas advert recreates WW1 truce’
- An opinion piece from Andrew Critchlow in the Telegraph who thought Sainsbury’s had had ‘gone too far’
- And finally, my personal favourite: a spoof version of the advert from comedians Hot Gulp: ‘A heartwarming tale of two rival factions putting aside their differences on Christmas day’.
Do you think Sainsbury’s ‘went too far’ with this advert? Was it a fond, well-researched tribute to an important historical event, or a cynical, emotive ploy to boost flagging profits? Or something in between? And what does this advert, and the debate it generated, tell us about the way we remember the First World War one hundred years on?