A seemingly innocent Christmas ad for the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain stylized as holiday home footage of a black family has riled up a certain segment of the online commentariat, while others panned them as racist.
The commercial titled ‘Gravy Song’ was released on Saturday, but still had Twitter fired up on Monday. In a slice-of-life way, the video tells the story of a family gathering around the table for a Christmas dinner made special by the aforementioned gravy. “Food is home. Home is Christmas,” the fairly standard ad concludes.
Despite nothing seemingly being out of the ordinary, the video, with just under a million views on YouTube, provoked the wrath of many online. On Twitter, the situation escalated quickly, with some commenters going so far as to call it “the worst advert I’ve ever seen” without any explanation.
It’s the worst advert I’ve ever seen.😮
— rose petal (@wotuupto) November 14, 2020
Some, however, shared some details of their frustration, suggesting that the all-black commercial didn’t represent them and thus had failed at “diversity and inclusion.” One person even tweeted that it was “totally inappropriate in a mainly white country” while others called it out for “virtue signaling.”
Isn’t the UK supposed to be all about Diversity and Inclusion? Don’t see any of that here. Virtual signalling if ever i’ve seen it!
— Susan (The Great Reset) 👀🔎 (@NoShariaHere18) November 14, 2020
This doesn’t represent me, I don’t see myself in this at all. I can’t relate. 🤷🏻♀️
— @debbiesuth (@debbiesuth1) November 15, 2020
It’s not hate, it’s comment ing on an advert that’s totally inappropriate in a mainly white country. It’s a PR failure…why not mix the ad to include several families. Very poor whoever thought it was a good idea at the Top of @sainsburysneeds to re address their aims
— Linda of the North🦊 (@LindaNi121202) November 15, 2020
So the uk is 86% white, yet 94% of ads are aimed at BAME, showing either black or mixed face,. May I ask what ads represent the majority or has the ad world crapped its Woke pants @WKLondon ?
— JC1381 #standwithFrance (@Jc1381A) November 14, 2020
The backlash quickly earned its own backlash, as other commenters jumped in to defend Sainsbury’s and accuse the naysayers and negative Nancies of racism. “White people don’t have to be involved in everything,” tweeted one person, adding, “just say you’re racist and go.”
Whenever I want a reminder of how racist the UK can be, despite politicians telling us the opposite…I can always rely on reactions to depictions of Black people in adverts…
— Michael Morgan (@mikewhoatv) November 15, 2020
White people don’t have to be involved in everything u absolute melons. Crying because someone failed to mention white people in one advert, one time 😭😭 just say you’re racist and gooo
— Ellbat (@ElenaBateman) November 15, 2020
Sainsbury’s official Twitter account itself replied to some commenters, explaining that it wants to be “the most inclusive retailer,” and that its aim is to “represent a modern Britain.”
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. Chris
— Sainsbury’s (@sainsburys) November 14, 2020
In fact, the trouble-stirring ‘Gravy Song,’ is only one in a series of three ads, sharing the same aesthetics and general message. The second one, ‘Perfect Portions’, released on Monday, and told a story of an all-white family this time.
Tweeters were quick to point out the curious lack of negative reviews below the white version of the ad, while others mocked the initial outrage by suggesting it was not inclusive enough.
Seems to be a lack of racists in this post
— Nathan Cross (@HelloImCross) November 16, 2020
“Where are the part Chinese part Welsh people?!” one person jokingly asked. “This doesn’t represent my family at all. Christmas ruined, kids are crying, thanks a lot Sainsbury’s.”
Where are the part Chinese part Welsh people?! This doesn’t represent my family AT ALL 🤬 Christmas ruined, kids are crying, thanks a lot Sainsbury’s
— Siobhan (@SiobhanBLam) November 16, 2020
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