A priest has complained to an advertising watchdog branding Sainsbury’s new Christmas advert as “utterly wicked”.
Father Nicholas Clews has written to the Advertising Standards Authority about the dramatisation of Christmas Day 1914 when the German and British troops played football in No Man’s Land.
Fr Clews, who is the priest in charge of the parishes of Woodhall in Pudsey and Thornbury in Bradford, described it as a “trivilisation of a tragic and moving event”.
During the advertisement a British soldier shares a moment of friendship with a German soldier who is later moved to discover his British friend has hidden the gift of a chocolate bar in his pocket.
The chocolate bar, which features in the advert, is available to buy from Sainsbury’s stores with the profits going to the Royal British Legion.
Fr Clews said: ‘The fraternisation that occurred on that Christmas Day was a recognition by the troops involved that their humanity was more important than their nationality.
“If they had hung on to that truth then four years of carnage would have been avoided.
“The tragedy is that having found peace they then threw it away and went back to war. It was a poignant missed opportunity.
“To exploit it to market chocolate is utterly wicked.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told the Yorkshire Post: “We’ve been really delighted by the amazing response to our Christmas ad which has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We’re very proud of our work with The Royal British Legion and to be able to raise additional funds for them to mark the 20th anniversary of our relationship with them.
“We understand the Advertising Standards Agency needs to look at ads even if it receives a single contact, but we’ve had no contact from them to date.”
Charles Byrne, director of fundraising for The Royal British Legion, added: “We’re very proud of our 20-year partnership with Sainsbury’s and this campaign is particularly important. 100 years on from the 1914 Christmas truce, the campaign remembers the fallen, while helping to raise vital funds to support the future of living.
“Sainsbury’s are generously donating all profits from sales of the chocolate bar which will raise significant funds towards the Legion’s vital welfare work.”
Mr Byrne added:“Established after the First World War, The Royal British Legion continues its work to support members of the Armed Forces, ex-Service men and women and their families, now and for the rest of their lives.”