The Moral Limits of Advertising
Debate programme that examines the ethical issues behind topical news stories. In this edition, the panel discuss the moral limits of advertising.
You know Christmas has arrived when there's a furious row about what's on the telly. This year it's about the Sainsbury's advert. It features a recreation of the 1914 Christmas day truce when the Germans and British abandoned their trenches to play football in No Man's land. The fact that it portrays an incredibly sanitised version of the First World War with not a spot of mud, or drop of blood in sight has certainly angered many. But even more questions are being asked about the last scene in the ad. In it the chiselled young Tommy gives his equally handsome German adversary a bar of chocolate and we're left with the message "Christmas is for sharing". The chocolate is of course being sold in Sainsbury stores until Christmas with the money raised going to the Royal British Legion. While many have found it moving it's also attracted a barrage of criticism for cashing in on the collective feeling of remembrance that has been so powerful in this centenary year of WW1. The contrast between this advert and the poppies at the Tower of London couldn't be more profound. Sainsbury say they've partnered with The Royal British Legion to ensure this story is told with authenticity and respect and they hope it will help keep alive the memory of the fallen. And the money raised will be going to a very good cause. But is it still crass and cynical? Are there really some things that money shouldn't buy? Are some things we hold so dear to ourselves, or our collective memories that to monetise them, through advertising or sponsorship, amounts to sacrilege? Or is that just our own moral squeamishness? Would we really be happier if we maintained our moral purity and the British Legion had less money? What are the moral boundaries when it comes to advertising and sponsorship? Presented by David Aaronovitch.
Panellists: Matthew Taylor, Michael Portillo, Claire Fox and Melanie Phillips.
Witnesses: Ally Fogg, Adrian Shaughnessy, Dave Trott and Jon Alexander.
Produced by Phil Pegum.