A Very Sainsbury’s Christmas

High budget, sentimental advertising has recently become a Christmas ‘tradition’ and now Sainsbury’s, like John Lewis is tugging at the heart strings in its recent Christmas advert. The subject matter of its beautifully shot advert has given rise to some very different interpretations. The advert is based on a moment in WW1 when German and English soldiers are thought to have called a temporary Christmas truce to the slaughter of the war to leave the trenches to play a game of football in the no man’s land of the battlefield.

Sainsbury’s almost acknowledge that the history behind the event is not wholly certain here.

Whether real or not, Sainsbury’s have recreated this moment to tie in with a promotion of a chocolate bar – packaged in a 1914-style design, proceeds from the sale of the chocolate are being given to The Royal British Legion – a charity that supports ex-servicemen. Whilst some see the advert as being a respectful reminder of the bravery of a generation of men that helps to raise money for a worthy cause, others see it as being exploitative. (Not helped by the supermarket’s plans to bulldoze a war memorial.) The representation of the trenches sanitises the conditions and the advert shows nothing of the death, destruction and suffering experienced by those who were there. The overall aim of the advert is, of course, to promote the supermarket and so the use of WW1 could be seen as tasteless and, even though a charity may benefit from chocolate sales, the main beneficiary of the awareness raising created by the advert is Sainsbury’s.

Zizek has a view on the way modern corporations incorporate the idea of charity into the way they persuade us to buy. Not everyone agrees with this argument of course but Sainsbury’s advert could be seen as part of this ‘cultural capitalism’.


Dapper – Just ‘Avin a Laugh??

A six part series on ITV2 staring Dapper Laughs had passed unnoticed in this household and I suspect that was the case in many more. However, since the content of the comedian’s act had been the centre of a twitter-storm he has almost become a household name. At least for a little while. Social media bought him to the attention of the mainstream press and he has, over the last week or so, been the centre of a whole lot of attention.

‘Laughs’ ¬†(a character created by the comedian Daniel O’Reilly) responded to a bad review of his work by encouraging his twitter followers to rally to his defence. They did so by sending threats of physical and sexual violence. To add to his problems the homeless charity Shelter made a statement saying that although he had offered to donate money raised from the sale of his ‘album’ they would not accept it as they too took offence at the nature of his humour. Further protests and a whole lot of media comment finally led to ITV2 cancelling a second season of his show and the comedian himself ‘retiring’ the Dapper Laughs character and taking part in this interview on BBC’s Newsnight.

Here is a debate about the comedian followed by his interview Рboth from Newsnight.

and here is a Channel 4 News‘s feature and discussion on the subject.

In other news the pick up artist Julien Blanc is also receiving a lot of negative publicity. His motivational conferences instruct ‘delegates’ how to pick up women and his methods include physical assault, bullying and psychological trickery. His tour in Australia was cancelled when public protests made it to the press and hotel chains who were hosting his meetings began to back away. A similar campaign is going on right now as he has plans to come to the UK and online petitions are available for those who want the home office to deny him a visa.