In a surprising turn of events, British retailer Marks and Spencer has found itself at the center of a raging debate with its latest holiday ad campaign, titled “Thismas.” While the ad aimed to capture the essence of the festive season, it has instead ignited a firestorm of criticism from conservatives who accuse it of attacking cherished Christmas traditions.
Marks and Spencer, a well-known British establishment renowned for its diverse range of products, including clothing and home decor, ventured into uncharted territory with its “Thismas” campaign. The ad, released with much fanfare, features celebrities participating in various Christmas-themed activities. However, what was meant to be a heartwarming celebration of the holiday season took a sharp and unexpected detour.
The controversial ad opens with celebrities reluctantly engaging in activities they ostensibly don’t enjoy but undertake to please their loved ones. While this initial portrayal seemed innocent enough, it quickly took a dark turn. The ad showcased these celebrities committing acts that seemed designed to undermine the very essence of Christmas, including lighting Christmas napkins on fire with a blowtorch and carelessly disposing of decorations.
Marks and Spencer shared the ad, intended to appeal to budget-conscious shoppers, on social media with the caption, “Sound the klaxon, our clothing and home Christmas ad for 2023 is here! #LoveThismasNotThatmas.” The response, however, was far from the festive spirit the retailer had hoped to evoke.
As expected, the advertisement provoked outrage from individuals who feel that the true meaning of Christmas has already been overshadowed by rampant commercialism. They argue that the ad exacerbates this issue by promoting a message that is selfish, anti-traditional, and anti-Christmas.
— M&S (@marksandspencer) November 1, 2023
Commenting on the Marks and Spencer post, one critic dismissively referred to the ad as “cobblers,” stating, “Your ‘Thismas’ looks complete cobblers to me. Instead of celebrating novel and personal ways of enjoying Christmas, your ad appears to denigrate traditions that millions of your customers hold dear. Yet another misstep from a UK household name. *sighs*”
Another disgruntled commenter labeled those behind the ad as “joy-sucking miseries,” declaring, “You utter joy-sucking miseries. I wish your entire agency, and whoever signed off on this mess, a 2024 filled with never-ending, recurring Famileigh dreams.”
A third commenter simply exclaimed, “What were you thinking? This is the worst advert ever, undermining traditions while you constantly remind us of M&S history. Utter nonsense.” In response, Marks and Spencer attempted to defend the ad, stating, “This year’s ad is about recognizing that we all have different Christmases and reminding people that it doesn’t matter how you celebrate, just do what makes you happy.”
But perhaps the most poignant criticism came from a British teacher who penned a heartfelt letter, declaring, “You have a duty as our national department store to preserve the spirit of Christmas for the sake of our children. When our nation faces challenges, trying to uplift our spirits for collective achievements, this is not the time to encourage selfishness over the values of self-sacrifice, gratitude, and generosity. I run an inner-city school in London, where we strive to instill decency and values in our children daily. When Marks and Spencer disregards these values, it hinders social mobility and happiness, particularly for disadvantaged children.”
The “Thismas” ad has undoubtedly stirred the pot, prompting a thought-provoking debate about the true essence of Christmas. While some view it as a refreshing departure from tradition, others see it as a disturbing assault on the values that have long been associated with this cherished holiday. As the festive season unfolds, it remains to be seen whether Marks and Spencer’s gamble will pay off or leave a lasting stain on the brand’s reputation.