UK supermarkets unite after Sainsbury’s advert prompts racist backlash

The Sainsbury’s Christmas advert was met with racist abuse on social media when it aired earlier this month. Photograph: Sainsbury's

The Sainsbury’s Christmas advert was met with racist abuse on social media when it aired earlier this month. Photograph: Sainsbury’s

A group of leading UK supermarkets have joined together to take a stand against a racist online backlash that followed Sainsbury’s Christmas advertisement featuring a black family.


Aldi, Asda, Co-op, Iceland, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose ran their adverts back-to-back during two primetime slots on Channel 4 on Friday evening, with the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism. Normally, competitors actively avoid airing their ads close together.

Channel 4 announcement introduced the ad break, saying: “Channel 4 stands up against racism. After the reaction to this year’s Sainsbury’s Christmas commercial, retailers have put their usual festive rivalries aside across two adbreaks tonight to stand side-by-side with us too.”

The full version of the Sainsbury’s advert, which was met with racist abuse on social media when it aired earlier this month, was also broadcast. It shows a father and daughter talking over the phone about looking forward to Christmas, interspersed with flashbacks to past Christmases while the dad boasts that he makes the best gravy.

Rachel Eyre, the head of brand communications and creative at Sainsbury’s, said: “We strive to be an inclusive retailer and we’re proud to unite with our industry colleagues to stand up against racism. We’re passionate about reflecting modern Britain and celebrating the diversity of the communities we serve, from our advertising to the products we sell.”

An advert by Co-op featuring a black woman was also targeted with racist comments online, leading the brand to tweet: “We’ve had some racist comments about our TV ad. Online communities shouldn’t welcome these views, neither should society and we definitely don’t welcome shoppers who think it’s ok to post racist tweets.”

The Co-op’s CEO, Steve Murrells, said: “We won’t stand by when we see racism happening and we’ll speak out and act against it. I am crystal clear that we must be anti-racist in everything that we do and we’ll work to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racial inequalities that currently exist. We are proud to stand in solidarity with our peers.”

Verica Djurdjevic, the chief revenue officer at Channel 4, said: “As an anti-racist organisation, we are incredibly proud to stand together with Sainsbury’s and our retail partners against racism, using our national platform to call out the unacceptable reaction to Sainsbury’s Christmas advert.”


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