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Set on Christmas Day in 1914, the newly unveiled Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign recalls one of the most poignant moments of the First World War.

The ad follows a British soldier as, on hearing the enemy singing Silent Night in German, he ventures into ‘no man’s land’ where troops from both sides join him and shake hands before starting the iconic football match of 1914. The soldier then shares a moment of friendship with a young German, who later finds a chocolate bar gift hidden in his pocket. The message is all about sharing being the true meaning of Christmas and the advert’s debut was accompanied by a promoted tweet campaign using the hashtag #ChristmasIsForSharing.

Created in partnership with the Royal British Legion, and with the help of a historian, the advert celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the Christmas Day truce. Sainsbury’s has supported the charity for over 20 years, even waiting until after Armistice Day to launch its Christmas campaign so stores can focus solely on the annual event.

The chocolate bars – which have been made in Ypres, the location of one of the bloodiest battles of World War One – are now on sale for a pound at stores across the country, with half of the proceeds being donated to the Royal British Legion.

However, the advert has divided the opinion of journalists on Twitter, attracting criticism from historian and Daily Telegraph lead writer, Tim Stanley, who brands the ad ‘exploitive’, with others calling it a ‘cynical commercial’.  Similarly, journalists from the likes of The Guardian and the Metro have described the campaign as a ‘disrespectful masterpiece’.  There are, of course, legions of consumers who’ve claimed that it’s the best of all the Christmas campaigns to grace our screens this season and, with over 4 million hits on YouTube over the last 48 hours, there are certainly a hoard of people who can comment.

Although a risky move from Sainsbury’s, I think that the campaign pays a real testament to the fallen, whilst also generating vital funds to support the future of living soldiers. It also makes a welcome change from retailers using emotive campaigns to encourage customers to pay over-the-odds for campaign merchandise. A case in point from this year’s campaigns comes from John Lewis, which is charging £95 for a cuddly toy version of the star of its show, Monty the Penguin – extortionate by anybody’s standards.

What do you think of the Sainsbury’s ad – exploitive or effective? Let’s chat!