19 November 2014
Shaun Wesgate, Managing Director

Using Remembrance to sell groceries

Sainsbury's Christmas Ad

I live very close to a World War One Memorial, so I always have a few seconds quiet reflection most days, thinking about those 40 million young soldiers who lost their lives in a most grotesque war.

The memorial is clearly doing its job well and doesn't let us forget all those soldiers who were lost. It also acts as a place for the town to meet up on Remembrance Day, show their respects and remember all those lost in the many conflicts around the world in the last 100 years. I sincerely hope this continues long into the future so that all generations spend time remembering the enormous loss of life and the appalling atrocities soldiers have had to experience.

There is no real agenda to this ritual, it acts as a reminder, prompting people to buy poppies and donate money to the British Legion to provide practical, emotional and financial support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present, and their families.

Another more recent reminder is the latest Christmas ad from Sainsbury's which uses the momentous Christmas truce between the trenches of 1914. It is a very cinematic, polished piece of film, where soldiers lay down arms, play football, exchange smokes and share chocolate. It gives us a great insight into the bravery and humanity of the soldiers on both sides who made this happen and helps us all to understand this remarkable event. I hope this raises the profile of the British Legion even further and that people give generously to them this Christmas. This will in turn benefit all members and families of the British Armed Forces who clearly need financial support.

Sainsburys is also selling a special chocolate bar that appears in the advert and, although they are donating profits from the sale of the chocolate bar to the British Legion, this is where their marketing strategy starts to fail.

A lot of people have reacted negatively to this ad because of the heavy handed way Sainsbury's have branded it, many people feel that they are using it as a vehicle to sell more product and that it is just not respectful.There are great subtleties in marketing a brand within such a significant and emotive context and incredible sensitivities are needed to promote the charity message in the right way. The negative reactions demonstrate the importance of combining the two.

One could argue in this instance that just to have been the creator of the film and a contact point for fundraising donations may have been enough and perhaps more appropriate? Whether you agree with me or not, I cannot conclude this article without asking you to reflect on the film's important message and to make a donation to the incredibly important organisation that is the British Legion.



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