By Charlotte Jude
It’s that time of year again when the Christmas decorations come back out, the same 10 songs start playing on every music channel and the major retailers roll out their Christmas adverts, attempting to capture our hearts and out-do all of their competition. But amid all this festive spirit, a sour taste has been left in our mouths by the reactions and comments expressed under one of Sainsbury’s three new adverts: ‘Gravy Song’, highlighting the fact that racism is and always has been a prevalent plague within society.
The video in question, displays a loving family reminiscing on Christmas memories, hoping that in the current climate, a daughter can come home for Christmas and enjoy her father’s famous gravy. The ad has caused outrage on Twitter and Youtube, simply because the family represented in the video, just so happens to be black. Some of the responses include: “You’ve managed to completely alienate the few remaining White customers you still had”, “NEVER shopping in Sainsbury’s again”, “I didn’t think black people had Christmas” and even going so far as to say “Representing Britain would mean having White families in your adverts… You’re part of the problem.”.
While the endless outpouring of support and backlash against these disgusting, hateful comments has been unmatched, this simple attempt at representing an already underrepresented race, especially in the nuclear family capacity, tells us all exactly what we need to know about the unchanged racist attitudes of the British public. The discomforting reality for some that this is twenty-first century Britishness in its most honest form has brought backward ideologies to the surface.
In a time concerned with the Black Lives Matter movement, it is presumed by many that racism only appears in America, but if something as simple as an advert showing a loving, relatable home at Christmas causes this much dispute, it is undeniable that racism still infects the blood of this country. The weak argument that this advert does not represent the people of Britain, becomes irrelevant when you consider other Christmas Adverts, such as the famous ‘Kevin the Carrot’ series by Aldi and the alien-like characters in last year’s Argos Christmas campaign. It is simply an excuse for unwanted racist comments by the people who are uncomfortable by the broad, diverse nation Britain has become.
Sainsbury’s released the following statement in response to the backlash, stating:
“At Sainsbury’s, 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. What Christmas will look like is uncertain for everyone at the moment, but we wanted to focus on how food can connect people, whether they’re physically together or not. These ads aim to evoke memories of Christmas food, which can transport you home wherever you are.”
While it is good to see the retailer and many other people defending the advertisement, it begs the question as to why it even needs to be defended in the first place. Videos two and three of Sainsbury’s new advertising campaign have also been released over the past few days, significantly with the comment sections under their videos still open. Nonetheless, you can bet we will be singing the ‘Gravy Song’ round our own Christmas dinner tables this year.