Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, has created a two-minute video initially posted on TikTok highlighting the issue of loneliness during the festive period.
The advertisement, which has now been watched by millions of people online, involves an elderly man visiting a gravestone with flowers before making his way downtown, where he is ignored by passersby he tries to greet.
He ends up in the pub, Charlie’s Bar, where he’s given a pint of Guinness and takes up a seat by the fire before being joined by a couple and their dog, who makes a beeline for the man.
It ends with a quote from WB Yeats: “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t yet met.”
This Christmas ad for a pub in Enniskillen is better than anything John Lewis has ever put out pic.twitter.com/GFlkhDgyuj
— Greg Murphy 🤓 (@TheGregMurphy) November 25, 2023
The video was created by locals, starring Martin McManus as the elderly gentlemen, and filmed and created by content creator Aoife Teague.
The “heart-warming” video was hailed by users on Twitter as “better than anything John Lewis has put out” despite costing a lot less to produce.
One said: “It succeeded where John Lewis has always failed. Not only did it bring a tear to my eye [but] it had a simple but important heartwarming message.”
Posting on Facebook, Charlie’s Bar said: “Christmas can be such a joyful time for some and painfully hard for others.
“One things for sure - you’ll always receive a warm welcome when you walk through our doors.
“We will be open on Christmas Day, so if you are alone this festive season, drop in for a chat.”
Lisa McGee, creator of the comedy Derry Girls was among those who praised the bar for its ad, while Emma DeSouza, the writer, praised the county for its “community”.
“I’m not crying…,” she said. “One of the things we love so much about Fermanagh is the community, this is a good reminder that for many people the festive period can be very lonely, reach out the hand of friendship if you can.”
Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party leader, and Malachy Quinn, a Social Democratic and Labour Party councillor, were among the politicians in Northern Ireland to praise the ad. A Sinn Féin councillor said the video had left her a “blubbing mess”.
One Twitter user said it was “the finest Christmas ad” while another said “if this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye you need a heart transplant”.
Una Burns, the manager of Charlie’s Bar, said she was “completely overwhelmed” by the reaction. “We’re just a small, local pub and we just wanted to provide a Christmas advert that hopefully resonated with people and for us, it became apparent over the years that Christmas can be a really lonely, tough time for some people,” Ms Burns told PA news agency.
“We see that more than others as on Christmas morning – when we’re open – there are some people coming in with maybe nowhere else to be and need people to speak to.
“We were not expecting the reaction that it’s received – it’s just blown up.”
She said Charlie’s Bar was “more than just a business, it’s part of our family”.
“My dad is the owner and my grandad was the previous owner,” she said.
She added: “People have been comparing it to the John Lewis advert, which we could have never expected – that’s brilliant.”
It is the latest in a series of made-at-home Christmas ads made by local companies.
Another pub in Northern Ireland, Quinn’s Bar in Newcastle, Co Down, has also produced an ad around loneliness.
An elderly man is surprised by all of his family after they join him at the seaside town pub on Christmas Eve. The caption says “leave nobody behind this Christmas”.
In another ad, a family-run DIY store called Hafod Hardware, from in a small town in mid-Wales, filmed their two-year-old Arthur Jones getting up and donning his apron for a day’s work.
It features four generations of the family and cost less than £100 to make back in 2019.
John Lewis’s Christmas advertisements have set the bar for other brands to meet since it produced its first festive ad in 2007.
This year’s edition received a mixed-reception, with the tale of a little boy and a giant Venus flytrap, attempting to evoke the feeling of family and the evolution of traditions.