A Grave Song: In Defence of Sainsbury’s Christmas Advert

The annual arrival of the Christmas advert onto our screens brings with it a sense of anticipation and a taster of the festive joy to come. What will the John Lewis advert be this year? How will the supermarkets decide to advertise their food? What we do not expect is a tsunami of backlash over a family – a black family – sharing memories of Christmas. 

The first of the three mini films created by Sainsbury’s is called ‘Gravy Song’. It is a nostalgic montage that ends with their Christmas message: “Food is Home. Home is Christmas.” During this unprecedented time, the message of home is a powerful one. Yet, the racist responses to this advert have been astonishing, and frankly heartbreaking.

They have included the following: “There seems to have been a mistake and we are being shown the wrong advertisement. Could we have the English version please?,” “Christmas in Nigeria,” and “Certainly not a white Christmas.” These all show the apparent “lack of relatability” towards the advert about a family at Christmas. Meanwhile, Aldi’s advert about a family of carrots remains undisputed, despite the orange vegetables not actually being human. 

Sainsbury’s responded to these racist comments with: “We want to be the most inclusive retailer. That’s why, throughout all our advertising we aim to represent a modern Britain, which has a diverse range of communities. We have three stories of three different families in our advertising.”

Christmas is a time shared with your loved ones and unfortunately this year will be different. Nostalgic advertisements, like this one, remind us of home and the warm memories associated with family. The racists in British society have brought hatred to the surface in response to an advert of warmth, in the name of a lack of relatability. 

British and Black are not two separate entities.  


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Elena Rodgers

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November 2021
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