Ads seldom haunt. But this one does. In a good way. This three-minute-plus mini video – it feels wrong to call it a commercial – takes us back to Christmas Eve 1914.

We feel the hard-packed earth of WWI trenches. Sense cold soldiers yearning for home. Memories seem to float in the air like the slow falling snow. And when the German and the British soldiers hear each other singing “Silent Night,” a young soldier, hesitates, then crawls out, arms up, offering friendship. You barely breathe, hoping his bravery doesn’t end in death.

Old timers know this spirit-lifting, commonsense-defying story. Others will be reminded. And a younger generation will learn.

It’s common for companies – particularly aviation companies – to weave in tributes to servicemen and women at the holidays. Few will be able to do it so well. But we can learn by Sainsbury’s example. Keep it…

  • … real. When you have a great story, don’t embellish. Let it tell itself.
  • … simple. This spot works because it focuses on the very human act of sharing.
  • … timeless. This ad looks back, yet manages to make us look forward.
  • … meaningful. Proceeds from Sainsbury chocolate sales go to the Royal British Legion.

Aviation is an industry full of heroes. Marketers would be wise to tell their stories respectfully and truthfully. Elevating not just brands, but humankind.