Sainsbury’s has received abuse online for its Christmas ad, “Gravy song”, which depicted a phone call between a father and his daughter during the festive season.
The ad, which is one of three spots created by Wieden & Kennedy London for Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign, was released to celebrate food, family and memory during the holidays.
However, the ad was subject to racist comments from some social media users who were offended by the brand's use of a black family.
Responding to the backlash, Rachel Eyre, head of brand communications and creative at Sainsbury’s, said: "We want to be an inclusive retailer where people love to work and shop.
"We are proud that our advertising represents the diverse communities we serve, and this year’s Christmas campaign simply reflects three stories of three different families celebrating Christmas in their own way."
Eyre continued: "Sainsbury’s is for everyone, and it’s important our advertising reflects this. The negative response of a vocal minority won’t stop us from representing modern Britain.”
“That's why, throughout all our advertising we aim to represent a modern Britain, which has a diverse range of communities.”
Diversity member and radio presenter Ashley Banjo chimed in on the backlash, making reference to his own experience of racism after Diversity performed a Black Lives Matter-themed performance on Britain’s Got Talent, which led to more than 24,000 people complaining to Ofcom.
Taking to Twitter, Banjo wrote: “Welcome to the ‘trigger the racists’ club.”
Others online were quick to note that not all Christmas ads feature white families, with reference to Argos’ bright blue alien family and Aldi’s celebrated festive ads, which features a family of carrots.
Comedian Munya Chawawa created a spoof video of how a racist (who claims not to be a racist) may complain in-store following the ad.
The clip quickly explains that “you can be black and celebrate Christmas”, which really shouldn’t have to be explained in 2020.
Many people are excited to visit their local Sainsbury’s with the knowledge that racists will no longer be visiting the supermarket for their weekly shop.
Some also pointed out that Jesus – the person traditionally celebrated at Christmas – was not white.
Why the FLIP would @Sainsburys use people who *checks notes* had the same skin colour as the guy wh- *checks notes again.* whose birth we’re celebrating?!— Tez (@tezilyas) November 17, 2020
It makes no sense!#SainsburysXmas https://t.co/iM90p2g2um
The ad has also received some more sincere responses from viewers who appreciate being represented in the supermarket’s advertising, including Deenie Davies, who appears in the ad.
It was great to be apart of this Christmas campaign! Had so much fun filming and being able to meet & work with some amazing people on set!— ?? (@DeenieDavies) November 14, 2020
Food is Home. Home is Christmas ???? ??
It’s all Gravy! #SainsburysXmas https://t.co/s3K4CFDGvS
Helen Andrews, managing director at Wieden & Kennedy London, said: "As an agency, we pride ourselves on creating work that represents the UK accurately and honestly.
"We are proud that the 'Food is Home' series and all of our work with Sainsbury's represents modern Britain."
Andrews continued: "Like many others, we have been appalled at the racist reaction from a small, but vocal, minority to the Sainsbury's Christmas campaign."