A tradition has sprung up in recent years in which retailers compete to produce the most memorable TV advert in the run up to Christmas. This year there is one clear winner, in my opinion.
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.
A slightly bemused Joe pipes up, ‘Guys…it’s just a bag'
So why should this commercial win the annual battle of the Crimbo TV adverts over the usual offerings from John Lewis, Marks and Spencer and co? I'll explain in a moment.
Remarkably however (to me at least) plenty of Christians seem to be missing the awesomeness of this tongue-in-cheek ad and instead have condemned it for belittling the Christmas story. I even saw one person on Facebook advocating for fellow believers to contact the Advertising Standards Agency to complain.
Frankly, that's a ridiculous over-reaction, because this is a brilliant advert. It 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.
It's a brilliant reminder of the way people replace the real ‘reason for the season’ with all kinds of trivialities
I even 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.
In fact, I foresee the video clip being used in many a yuletide sermon this year. It's a brilliant conversation starter on the the way our culture has replaced real awe and wonder with a synthetic byproduct. No wonder that this year’s Christmas Starts with Christ campaign has seized on the advert as a resource for churches (see the video below).
So, instead of being a bah-humbug (or should that be 'ba-handbag'?) about the over commercialisation of Christmas this year, and doing the predictable disgusted-Christian-of-Tunbridge-Wells thing, perhaps we should thank the creative people at Mulberry and celebrate the opportunity they've presented us with to remind people that the original Christmas gift beats a Mulberry bag (however beautiful) every time.