I’m all for a sausage roll, but replacing the sleeping Christ to advertise an advent calendar!? According to the BBC, Greggs had to apologise for their new advertising campaign, the sleeping baby sausage roll, after an up roar on twitter. There have been mixed opinions on the subject. Some found the advert funny, however others saw it as offensive, tweets stating that ’no other religion would stand for this sort of nonsense!’ Personally, I agree, the advertisement was ridiculous and demonstrates to what extent Christmas has become commercialised. We sometimes forget that Christmas is a Christian tradition to celebrate the birth of Christ.
In 2017 Christmas is the season to be jolly. It’s a time when watching films like Elf and The Grinch become acceptable, and Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey come out of their caves once again to grace us with their festive tunes. It’s a time of late night shopping, eating as much chocolate as possible, and dropping subtle hints to people so they know what you want for Christmas (I’ll make it easy, Harry Styles in the Givenchy suit from his VSFS performance, but if you can’t get that then maybe I’ll settle for some nice sportswear). But as a Theology student sometimes I sit back and think, when did Christmas become so materialised. When did we lose the sense that Christmas is about the birth of a saviour (to many).
Now I know not everyone is Christian. Even I am a little sceptical about the authenticity of the Bible, but I argue that Greggs have over stepped the mark by taking a holy image (the three wise men surrounding Jesus) and replacing it with a sausage roll. Religion is a large part of a person’s life, and to have it publicly mocked is disrespectful to many. For example, there would be a similar uproar if Mohammed (PBUH) had been used in a similar manner. So, Greggs should not assume that Christians would not take offense from the misuse and commercialisation of an iconic biblical moment. Although if you think this is the first example of biblical imagery in advertising, you would be very disappointed.
What annoys me about the Greggs controversy; is that everyone pipes up as soon as Jesus is mocked or misused, but years of perfume ads using Eve as a sex symbol and everyone is silent. Most people know at least a basic version of Adam and Eve. After being told not to eat from the tree of knowledge, Eve is seduced by a snake and tastes the forbidden fruit, she then tempts Adam to the same fate, and due to this they are both banished from the Garden of Eden. Many theologians have read in to the Genesis story to explain original sin, but have also used it as a method to make women inferior. There are many interpretations that lay blame fully on Eve for the downfall of Adam (because you know, Adam couldn’t have said no to the apple!)
The use of Eve in perfume adverts (for some reason they absolutely love her) is always portrayed in a seductive way. A snake choking her, an apple in hand and scantly clad, or the background is a mysterious garden. Eve is used as a sex symbol to sell perfume and entice people into buying this product. The saying is ‘sex sells’, but I argue that these ads are just as bad as Greggs. They are taking a biblical story and misusing it for their own commercial motives. Moreover, the use of Eve is derogatory, categorising women as a symbol to lust over, when in fact we are so much more.
Other readings of Eve portray her as man’s equal. In the Genesis story she is made from man’s rib, the same material as Adam, and therefore she is equal to man. Going off these perfume ads, you would think she was just a pretty thing for Adam to look at. Women in 2017 need inspirational figures, not sex symbols.
Using religion in advertising is not always the best move; I don’t think people are being too sensitive, as if it were any other religion the reaction would be the same. However, I do think we need to open our eyes a bit more to the different uses of biblical imagery in advertising. We also need to remember the real reasons we celebrate Christmas. Not the fancy lights, or the parties, but family (and if you are religious, Happy birthday JC).
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