God with us, but would we rather have a bag?
I know it is another Christmas ad, but I just could not resist this. Have you seen the Mulberry bag advert? I have seen it with a few people. Some are outraged, some laugh. Some are confused. What do you think?
As a piece of marketing, I think it is wonderful. The ad is clearly pitched at the 'male' market with the ladies laughing on. It is the guys who are being shaped here. Don't you want to buy a present that is worshipped like this bag? Don't you want to get the ultimate present that will draw the locals (and those travelling from the East) to look and marvel? Let's be honest, it is difficult buying presents at Christmas. The message of the advert is clear 'if you want a certain winner when it comes to presents, buy her a Mulberry bag'. Is that all that is going on though? Intentionally or unintentionally, Mulberry have strayed on to 'holy ground' and I think that is why some people are so upset when they view the advert.
'if you want a certain winner when it comes to presents, buy her a Mulberry bag'
The bigger message
A bag has replaced Jesus. There is a purposeful use of blasphemy "Oh, my God Joe" is the first line from the female character, followed by "It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life." Then the angelic music starts. It is all done in a 'tongue in cheek' way, but there is something more troubling here. It is a red bag in the place of Jesus. It is materialism rather than salvation. Note my emphasis there. I am not arguing for religion rather than materialism. Jesus is not announced to the world as someone who came to 'bring a new religion to the world', but someone who will 'save his people from their sins.' This is the crying shame of the advert. I am all for nice bags, I am all for clever adverts getting at the male insecurity that we are rubbish at buying gifts. I am all for the idea that I might just find the secret gift that will smash it out the park in terms of pleasing my wife. However, please please don't tell us to replace Jesus with materialism. There is no contest.
Matthew 1:21 is a good summary of the joy of Christmas:
"She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
The joy of the season is because this Jesus will save his people from their sins.
The bag will last a few years. The forgiveness that Jesus brings lasts for eternity.
The bag costs a few quid (a few more than I suspect it is worth). The forgiveness that Jesus brings cost him his life.
The bag is heralded as 'absolutely amazing' although we really know it is 'just a bag'. Many people will pass by Jesus' free offer to forgive sins because they think 'it is just Jesus'. In actual fact, when you look into the claim and the evidence, it is truly amazing.
There is a warning in all this for me as a husband and a father. I am often found in the same place as this guy. I want the presents I buy to bring joy and satisfaction. However, the only one who really can is the one they have left out of the advert. I will be well advised to put Christ back at the heart of Christmas because the salvation he brings is the only thing that really lasts.
Put Christ back at the heart of Christmas
Blog post adapted from Gareth's Blog