UK supermarkets unite against racism after Sainsbury’s advert received racist backlash

Sainsbury's were forced to defend their Christmas advert featuring a black family after trolls critised them for being 'woke', this reaction prompted a response from leading supermarkets. Photo by: Miki J | CreativeCommons

Leading supermarket chains ‘Stand against racism’ in a Channel 4 ad break takeover to show solidarity after Sainsbury’s Christmas advert is the target of racial abuse. 

In an unprecedented show of unity, a group of leading UK supermarkets put their rivalries to the side to take a stand against racist backlash that followed Sainsbury’s Christmas advert which featured a black family.

Aldi, Asda, Lidl, Co-Op, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Iceland ran their adverts back-to-back taking up two primetime slots on Channel 4 on Friday evening, with the hashtag #StandAgainstRacism.

In the spirit of competition, rival supermarkets actively avoid airing their ads one after the other.

Channel 4 introduced the ad break with a message, 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 ad breaks tonight to stand side-by-side with us too.”

The full version of the Sainsbury’s advert, which some social media users reacted to with racist abuse when it broadcast earlier in the month, also aired.

It shows a phone call between a father and daughter who are looking forward to Christmas, interspersed with visuals of past Christmases whilst the dad boasts that he makes the beast 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.”

Following the ad break, viewers responded with mostly positive comments. “This actually brought a tear to my eyes. Fantastic to see all the companies work together. A great initiative. Long may it continue.”, said one user on Twitter.

Another Twitter user said: “So sad that it had to be done but it was amazing of you all and a true stand against racism. I applaud you all and stand with you proudly.”

Tesco included their ‘Food Love Stories’ ad despite being criticised for its lack of inclusivity, after only featuring Caucasian actors.

Vanessa Vanderpuye, who was edited out of the final cut, expressed her disappointment about being cut from the ad and went on to reveal she had to do her own hair on set.

Vanderpuye took to Instagram to call out the supermarket giant, saying: “I’m always the token black girl and I always have a white husband with me, which for me is progress.”

“Three years ago, my afro wasn’t desirable, they wanted me to suppress it on screen; so to be cast as a dark-skinned couple for the new Tesco commercial, I was so excited because I had never seen that.”

Tesco denied that the decision was based on race and stated that none of the actors received hair styling for the shoot.

A spokesperson for Tesco said: “Our Food Love Stories campaign has featured more than 70 stories from people of all backgrounds. We were sorry to hear that Vanessa was unhappy with the way our advert was edited, we immediately reached out to her to explain the reasons and process behind the decision.”

Words: Leah Nelson | Subbing: Dina Nazari

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