German supermarket chain Edeka is in the news this week, defending itself against claims that its TV ad for Christmas contains hidden neo-Nazi messages.
In short, it’s what German Chancellor Angela Merkel would call a “shitstorm” and, what’s more, Edeka finds itself in the middle of controversy that was completely unnecessary.
Somehow, we doubt that the board of directors at Edeka – the co-op style brand which has around 25 percent market share in Germany – are harboring neo-Nazi tendencies.
But they are ambitious enough to try and outdo their own ad from last Christmas, which already pushed the envelope by portraying a grandfather who faked his own death to ensure that his family would be present at his house at Christmastime.
That was edgy – but somewhat tame in comparison to the allegations leveled against Edeka that this year’s Christmas ad contains subvert neo-Nazi messages.
The arms race to be “edgy” in Christmas ads
And this is where the arms race in producing the best TV ad for Christmas has led. How can the ad-men outdo a huge controversy? Or, was this in fact what they wanted to achieve – to get everybody talking?
According to the papers, Edeka denies that its ad contains subvert pro-Nazi messages. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the competition to produce the most-compelling TV ad around Christmas is intensifying, and not only in Germany.
Just look at the fuss around the annual John Lewis ad in the UK, for example.
These extended ads can be storytelling at its finest – managing to spark emotion in consumers in-between ads for soap powder and this year’s must-have Christmas presents for the kids.
Yet it appears that this time – deliberately or not – Edeka has crossed the line.
It’s a clear case of a storytelling fail.