The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Bringing the magic of Christmas, one ad at a time…

I’m a penny pincher. So, when I’m listening to Spotify, I have to endure ads every 30 minutes. Most of the time it’s just an annoyance, but last week there was one that really grabbed my attention.

Cue cheesy Christmas music and product placement galore…

‘Anyone can be Santa. Though his boots are not my size, with a twinkle in my eyes, I could be Santa Claus.’

Within a few moments, I’d googled the full version of the Coca-Cola Christmas ad. It begins with a world full of Santas: they’re washing their red suits in the launderette, skateboarding down streets, and lifting weights in the gym. It’s a world full of kindness, too. They’re all looking out for each other – whether that’s giving another Santa the last bottle of Coca Cola or hailing a cab for a Santa laden with presents.

It would be easy to respond like Scrooge – to point out the ways in which the ad doesn’t reflect our experience of the festive season. There’s a perfect sprinkling of snow and family life is presented as idyllic, without a hint of conflict. And that’s the point: Christmas ads paint a picture of what we’d love the world to be.

But it’s the second half which really struck me. The story shifts to scenes of everyday life – to real people acting with generosity and goodwill, from a woman holding the door for a man on the train to a guy giving a carrot to children building a snowman.

Coca-Cola tells us it’s because people are embracing their ‘inner Santas’. But actually, they’re reflecting the joy-bringing and lifegiving character of Jesus. And, as Christians, we’re called to join God’s transformative work to bring his ‘love, joy, [and] peace’ to the people and places around us (Galatians 5:22–23).

At Christmas, we celebrate God coming to dwell with us, bringing salvation to a broken world. But the joy of Christmas is also the hope of what’s to come — God restoring all things. With Jesus, we can experience and share glimmers of that joy now. And our society is crying out for these moments.

So, how will you spread the joy of Emmanuel, God with us, in the coming weeks? You could buy the person behind you in Starbucks a festive drink, bake mince pies for your postie, or babysit for a single parent so they can go to their work Christmas party. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

Sophie Sanders
Marketing & Communications Executive, LICC

Comments

  1. I really miss being able to read the comments others have made on these pieces. I used to be able to go back to the previous week’s piece and see the discussions that would develop. This was often helpful in itself.
    Is there a way if doing that with this new format?

    By Tim  -  24 Nov 2023
  2. Love this. Thank you

    By Jacqui  -  24 Nov 2023
  3. Love this! I’m also a sucker for Christmas ads and like you, think they can often reveal more about God’s gift at this time of year than we give them credit for. Thanks for the positivity and the challenge.

    By Deborah Jenkins  -  24 Nov 2023
  4. Please don’t mention Starbucks as Christians support small businesses in their areas who are trying to survive with the UK’s current government.

    Starbucks are with Coke cola….powerful and put money before people.

    By Louise Ross  -  24 Nov 2023
  5. Love this….today I chose to spend time with a guy who I normally find rather annoying….he is one of those expansive swimmers who does breast stroke and takes up a whole lane. He started a conversation and asked me about doing front crawl…..I told him about a swimming tutorial online. We parted new best friends! What next!

    By Merrielle Billington  -  24 Nov 2023

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