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THE fury that has followed Gregg's portrayal of baby Jesus as a sausage roll in the high street baker's advent calendar is unfair, I feel.

Those who have seen red over the image of three Wise Men staring in awe at the greasy snack have overthought the nativity scene. They believe it suggests the Virgin Mary gave birth to a sausage roll.

That is silly, but, as a committed atheist, I think it makes more sense than the original story. I only regret Greggs didn't go the whole hog by depicting the Wise Men clutching ketchup, mayo and brown sauce.

The booming business was simply remembering our Lord and Savoury - sorry, saviour - at this time of year.

Other images include Santa with pasty flakes in his beard and a steak bake ready to be carved on the Christmas table.

I am not offended, and I speak as someone who played "lead pig" three years running in my junior school's nativity. I think audiences would've appreciated the irony.

And rather than castigate Greggs, the Church should realise this firm has delivered the greatest story ever told to those millions who felt religion rather got in the way of the festivities. People who have spent a lifetime asking, "what the bloody hell is myrrh?" People with high cholesterol, bad tattoos and babies with pierced ears.

And "El Chapo" had a point when he posted: "I'm sorry, like, but Jesus was born over 2,000 years ago so how can anyone stand up and say he wasn't actually a sausage roll? Bring me the proof or else I'm convinced he was a warm pastry treat."

Fair comment. But if God wanted mankind to sit up and take notice, he'd send his son as a steak bake, Greggs' signature snack.

The Church should follow Greggs' lead and produce a fast-food edition of the Bible, including feeding the 5,000 with a KFC 14-piece bargain bucket. Let's get some good old "product placement" in the Good Book. It's crying out for sponsorship.

At the weekend, I watched a 1950s big screen Biblical epic starring Victor Mature, featuring the Last Supper. It reminded me we needed wine.

Matthew 26: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it."

What kind of bread? Warburtons or Hovis would pay a lot of wonga to have their names inserted in that sentence.

2 Samuel 17:29: "And honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the people that were with him, to eat." Insert: "and all provided in less than 24 hours by Tesco's on-line delivery service."

Proverbs 15:17: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox." That's a tailor-made slogan for Quorn.

I will grudgingly agree Mail reader Beth Rosenberg had a point when she tweeted: "Out of interest do you think the people at Greggs understand that Jesus was Jewish and serving up a pork sausage roll in the manger is unbelievably inappropriate?" Greggs, I am sure, will not repeat the festive faux pas in their Easter holiday campaign. May I suggest an innocent quiche on the cross.

The company has apologised, with a spokeswoman telling The Northern Echo: "We're really sorry to have caused any offence, this was never our intention."

The seasonal stunt may have sparked a Bible backlash, but there's no doubt it's proved a commercial winner. Sausage roll sales have rocketed.

This has led some within the industry to speculate those advertising gurus behind the calendar knew exactly what they were doing, that they delibertely courted controversy.

Lawrence Francis, a "director of client strategy" for a top company, told trade publication Campaign: "It seems clear that this was designed to provoke, and to that end it was certainly successful. At any rate, it certainly got everyone in the comms world talking - and I am sure some of us craving a sausage roll in place of our Pret salads!

"I find it hard to believe, despite their apology, that Greggs (and their agency) didn't see this negative public reaction coming, and would go as far as to speculate that this was surely part of the strategy."

The worth of those tactics were underlined by one reader who tweeted: "Marketing genius! An hour in the car listening to the radio and all I can think of is getting my teeth into that crispy pastry through to warm, spicy sausage meat."

A marketing ploy? Maybe.

But those who refuse to believe should consider one undeniable truth.

Lord Jesus spelt backwards is Susejd Rol.

YOU'VE GOT TO LAUGH...A HOMELESS man stopped me in the street and tried to flog me a pair of size 13 Nike trainers. He was selling biggish shoes.

MY wife is leaving me over my obsession with auctions. She's going...once, she's going twice...

DOES an apple a day keep the doctor away, or is it one of Granny's Myths? A BAD workman always blames his fools. Sorry, I meant tools - bloody keyboard.

EACH year hundreds of children are placed in mime schools, never to be heard from again.

Let's get some good old "product placement" in the Good Book. It's crying out for sponsorship!
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 24, 2017
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