British Legion John Lewis Christmas

Viewers bombard ASA with Sainsbury’s Christmas ad complaints with offence caused by the exploitation of the Great War setting


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

November 14, 2014 | 3 min read

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has received 240 complaints in response to Sainsbury’s festive ad, 'The Christmas Truce’ which launched on Thursday.

This chocolate bar is available in-store

Despite the ad opening to critical acclaim with many stating it was better than John Lewis' 'Monty the Penguin', some viewers felt the three and a half minute retelling of the ‘Christmas Truce’ was merely a distasteful attempt at drumming up sales.

An ASA spokesperson told The Drum that it has so far received 240 complaints, most of which were regarding the cynical use of the “World War One themes/imagery to promote a supermarket”, in a move seen by many as disrespectful.

Guardian writer Stuart Heritage summed up the sentiment that the supermarket exploited the tragedy with this controversial tweet.

Typically, the ad had other viewers in tears, with the faithful recreation of the emotionally-charged festive ceasefire.

The watchdog is currently accessing the complaints, weighing up whether there are grounds to launch an investigation into the ad.

Despite the negativity surround the commercial itself, the retailer has partnered with the British Legion, and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary working with the charity through its Poppy Appeal. It is even the first retailer to recycle poppies in-store for next year's appeal.

Furthermore, the Belgian chocolate bar featured in the ad is available in store for £1 with all profits donated to The Royal British Legion.

Regardless of how the ad comes across to viewers, the supermarket told the Daily Mail it is shifting "5,000 bars an hour", bringing the charity substantial income.

British Legion John Lewis Christmas

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