Which is your favourite TV Christmas Advert? Each year companies try to outdo the previous year and each other. You can even Google all of them in one go! A mumsnet.com poll liked the Aldi ad ‘Favourite Things’ while the most gratuitous and blasphemous one has to be for Mulberry where an expensive red leather bag replaces the baby Jesus in the Bethlehem story. The recent controversy over a cinema advert for prayer – an inclusive contemporary take on the Lord’s Prayer – shows the challenge the Church faces in making a positive seasonal gesture.
Most Christmas adverts are wholesome or even religious in sentiment. Morrison’s celebrates home-made food, Argos extolls its speedy delivery staff, while Boots and Asda celebrate the excitement and fun things we do ‘Because it’s Christmas’. TK Maxx has a great take on loving our neighbour with little gifts for everyone on our street, the irritating, noisy and nosey neighbours included. This year John Lewis portrays a subtle approach to caring for the isolated elderly: a little girl sends a telescope by balloon to the lonely Man on the Moon – Age UK is the charity supported.
However my first prize goes to Sainsbury’s for their simply delightful extended advert ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’ featuring the much loved children’s story cat. Mog somehow manages to both create and save a Christmas Eve disaster (a family home nearly burns down and the neighbours rally round). The advert supports Save the Children UK Child Literacy project. Make sure your children and grandchildren see it.
Sentiments run high in the approach towards Christmas, both happy and sad. Many people of all ages enjoy carol services and Midnight Mass congregations swell. However it’s amongst our family and friends and our neighbours, including the difficult ones (and even our enemies) that the true spirit of Christmas is tested. It’s not just about buying gifts but bringing joy. In the Christmas story love overcomes all. It makes you think: what kind of advert for Christmas are we?
Bishop Nigel’s article in the Courier, a widely read daily Scottish newspaper published in Dundee published 3rd December 2015.