We all need a laugh at the moment, and at first glance the decision of M&S to apologise for its Christmas ad, and then delete it, is proper hilarious.
In case you’ve missed this seasonal treat, at one point in its newly released ad some Christmas decorations – red, silver and green – are seen alight in the fireplace, with a nonchalant Hannah Waddingham standing alongside the fire. The ad itself may be a bit cringe, but it’s about as political as a haddock fillet.
Well, nothing is too ridiculous for social media warriors, and within hours of the release yesterday of a still from the ad, M&S was being attacked online for “promoting the burning of the Palestinian flag”.
I am something of a Twitter – sorry, X – addict, so I am used to the crazed campaigns that can suddenly take hold. But this one is truly bonkers. “So we just allowing M&S to post sh*t like this and other people are losing their jobs for standing up for the people of Palestine? And don’t tell me this isn’t what it looks like. They knew what they were doing when they posted this”.
Another poster revealed that M&S had actually been in cahoots with Hamas, planning everything: “M&S deliberately ran this, its called predicative programming. Israel /Palestine pre planned. They even tell you its predicative programming as it they said it was filmed in August!!”
But it wasn’t just the burning Christmas decorations that revealed M&S’s nefarious intentions. The ad also has singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor in it – and she is wearing blue eye shadow. Kapow! Blue means Israel. And just to ram home what M&S is up to, she is using a blow torch in the ad. It’s obvious what this all means: “This new M&S campaign is subliminally referring to the ongoing genocide in Palestine. #boycottmarksandspencer if you will watch the ad, The blue evil eye, burning and not to forget the golden blast in the end. It is as clear as day!”
Forget that the ad was filmed in August, long before Hamas’s murder of 1400 Jews led to the Palestinian flag being waved on the various hate marches up and down the country. Forget that red, silver and green are the traditional Christmas colours (and silver isn’t even part of the Palestinian flag). Forget that blue eyeshadow isn’t now and never has been associated with anything, let alone with Israel. Forget all that. A more pressing question needs to be answered: how do these people cope with day to day life? How do they manage?
There is only one appropriate response to all this: ignore it. All of it. Treat these Grade A imbeciles with the contempt they deserve.
But M&S’s response turns this ridiculous episode from providing the much-needed humour into – I can hardly believe I am writing this – something that actually matters.
Because M&S didn’t just take these morons seriously – it apologised to them and deleted the ad. Last night M&S released this statement: “Today we shared an outtake image from our Christmas Clothing and Home advert, which was recorded in August. It showed traditional, festive coloured red, green and silver Christmas paper party hats in a fire grate. While the intent was to playfully show that some people just don't enjoy wearing paper Christmas hats over the festive season, we have removed the post following feedback and we apologise for any unintentional hurt caused.”
It's not so much corporate cowardice as corporate idiocy, the latest playing out of a deeply depressing pattern that continually reasserts itself. Some ludicrous campaign on social media targets a company or institution and instead of having the nous and the sense to ignore it and let it burn out – as they always do – the body in question cravenly prostrates itself in shame, as if it thinks Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution is being replayed in 2023.
Then again, perhaps Islamists who buy Christmas decorations are a key demographic for M&S?
The problem is that when the likes of M&S behave as if these idiots matter, they then actually start to matter. When you appease people like this, you make things much worse. M&S is now in the middle of a PR crisis entirely of its making. Now who are the idiots?
There is, of course, an added dimension to the fact it is M&S. Among the Islamists, M&S is regarded as corporate enemy number one. Because its founder, Michael Marks, was Jewish, the Islamists treat M&S today – which is about as Jewish as a bacon sandwich – as if it sat alongside the Chief Rabbi in the Anglo-Jewish pantheon. Three years ago a terrorist stabbed two people in an M&S shop in Burnley because "Israel was causing atrocities against Muslims".
Then again, as we have seen above, rational thought is not part of the Islamist mindset.