Controversial Christmas Commercial Inspires Holiday Tears, Gets 42 Million Views On YouTube [Video]

German supermarket chain EDEKA released a controversial Christmas commercial for the 2015 holiday season, and it's generating a lot of buzz. The Christmas commercial has now received over 42 million views on YouTube, with most watchers admitting to some tearing up as a result. The commercial's intent is to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas, reports DW. The Christmas commercial has been referred to as "tragic," and the world's reaction has been mixed, with some watchers saying that the ad goes too far.

EDEKA disagrees. The largest supermarket chain in Germany has stated that the reason for their controversial Christmas commercial wasn't to inspire depression but to serve as a simple reminder: namely, to remember the important things in life -- even when you're busy. Even when you're distracted. Because sometimes, when you spend all of your time on the less important or trivial things, you can suddenly find that the important things are gone.

The controversial EDEKA commercial was released during the busy pre-Christmas ad season, following similarly tear-jerking ads by supermarket chains like Sainsbury's in Britain. It's not clear if the EDEKA ad was a direct response to Sainsbury's, but it's certainly aimed at hitting viewers directly in the feels.

The Christmas commercial inspired hashtags and controversy on social media within days of its late-November release, but no one could have predicted its immense popularity. #Edeka and #heimkommen ("coming home") popped up on Twitter, and millions viewed the YouTube video during the first weekend of its release.

German discount grocery chain Edeka
[Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images]The controversy surrounding the Christmas ad comes from viewers who thought that the supermarket chain took the emotional "manipulation" too far, especially for a promotional ad. The disheartened and dissatisfied viewers of the controversial Christmas ad took their frustrations to social media, as well as the "vote down" button on YouTube. To be fair, currently the commercial has over 42 million views, 234,000 likes, and only 4,900 dislikes on the video sharing site.

Some Twitter users are calling the commercial "emotional blackmail," while others are questioning whether it's "disturbing or brilliant?"

Whether viewers find themselves "in love" or "in hate" with the controversial EDEKA commercial, it has definitely become an iconic example of how the internet is changing the way people watch ads, and therefore how marketing professionals work their magic. The BBC reports on the importance of effective advertising, particularly during the holiday season, adding that TV has become far less important for Christmas commercials than at any time in the past.

British children watching television
[Photo by Express/Getty Images]While advertising still plays an integral role during the Christmas season, retailers have turned their attention to online ads and social media to help get their message to the masses. Online marketing is largely less expensive than purchasing a prime time ad spot, is more targeted, and it provides the possibility that your Christmas commercial will go viral and reach millions.

When companies use the internet and social media for their Christmas advertising, they also have the opportunity to get "interactive" with their customers and potential customers. Retailers can even integrate "buy it now" apps directly into their ads, something that your average TV just can't compete with.

This year's most viewed holiday ad? You guessed it. The controversial EDEKA Christmas commercial. Ironically, EDEKA doesn't sell internationally at all. That minute detail didn't stop the supermarket chain from utilizing English subtitles on the YouTube version of their ad. Nor did it stop the commercial from being shared 2.39 million times online by December 10.

So, why did EDEKA go to the trouble of putting their Christmas ad out to a wider, English-speaking audience if not to merely sell something to the English-speaking world? Perhaps they just realized that they had something brilliant and worthwhile to share with the world. It could be that they were simply using their controversial Christmas commercial to remind people to remember what's important this holiday season.

[Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]