Mulberry, a company that makes luxury handbags, has produced a brilliant commercial which parodies the traditional Christmas nativity scene.
To the strains of a heavenly choir, a young woman unwraps a gift from her husband ‘Joe’ in surroundings reminiscent of the Bethlehem stable. The present is a red Mulberry handbag and she is delighted with it.
Then lo…at the door appear two shepherds (complete with sheep and West Country accents) who enter to marvel at the designer apparel she has been gifted. They are swiftly joined by three well-dressed Christmas revellers wearing paper crowns (guess who?). They also revere the gift, passing it between each other with awe and wonder.
Eventually a slightly bemused Joe pipes up, ‘Guys…it’s just a bag.’
An awkward pause follows, but the visitors laugh off Joe’s irreverent interjection and the adoration continues. The film ends as the camera pans to a light bulb on the ceiling which looks rather like a star hovering overhead.
The advert works well on a couple of levels. Firstly it’s very funny, but the self-deprecating humour also acts as a counterpoint to the slew of pompously arty adverts for perfume and designer goods which invade our TV sets at this time of year. ‘It’s just a bag’ sums it up exactly.
One also has to wonder whether a Christian influence may have been involved somewhere in the scriptwriting and production. The two-minute film is a brilliant reminder of the way people replace the real ‘reason for the season’ with all kinds of trivialities (I foresee the video clip being used in many a yuletide sermon this year). No wonder that this year’s Christmas Starts with Christ campaign has seized on the advert as a resource for churches.
As Michael Harvey writes in our cover story, the run-up to Christmas is: ‘rather like the hunting or fishing season, we are given a period of time in which it is seen as acceptable to invite people to church’.
So, instead of bah-humbugging the overcommercialisation of Christmas this year, perhaps we should celebrate the opportunity it offers us to remind people that the original Christmas gift beats a Mulberry bag (however beautiful) every time. Happy Christmas!