A budget Christmas advert by a pub in Northern Ireland has gone viral – with the manager describing the reaction as beyond her “wildest dreams”.
Charlie’s Bar in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, unveiled the ad on Friday, which features an elderly man walking alone after placing flowers on a grave.
After being ignored by several people, he enters the bar and is joined by a couple and their curious dog, who stay and drink with him.
The song People Help The People by British singer-songwriter Birdy accompanies the advert.
It ends with the quote: “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met yet.”
It has racked up millions of views on X, formerly Twitter, and more than 60,000 likes on TikTok after being posted online – but cost only £700 to make.
It even prompted reaction from John Lewis, which has itself become synonymous with tear-jerking festive adverts.
“We’re not crying, you are. Merry Christmas,” the department store’s official TikTok account wrote underneath the video.
Others even claimed it is better than the store’s efforts this year.
Lisa McGee, creator of sitcom Derry Girls, also praised the ad – while Catherine Nelson, a Sinn Fein councillor, said: “Oh my goodness me – I am a blubbing mess.”
Una Burns, the manager at Charlie’s, said she wanted to create an advert that would “resonate with people”.
She told Sky News the love shown for the ad was “completely overwhelming” and “never in our wildest dreams did we expect this reaction”.
On the inspiration for the video, she said: “It’s just what I had seen in the pub over the years.
“And I suppose I just wanted to get across that message that it’s not always a joyful, happy time for everybody – that some people find it really tough, and just to be kind – and that a smile or a simple hello can go a long way.”
Ms Burns said new customers had already visited the pub after seeing the advert.
She’s also now considering making it an annual event.
Star of the advert, Martin McManus, said a friend had put him forward and that he got the part after they saw his photo.
“I’m not hoping to get rich from it or anything like that,” he joked.
“I enjoy drama, I’ve been at it for years and years; it’s great to get success like this – it’s snowballed, you know?”
He said the ad sent an important message that some people are on their own at Christmas.
“There’s also a sad side to it – particularly as you get older because you’re thinking about all your family that’s dead and gone,” he told Sky News.
“There’s so many things that go through your mind.”
Mr McManus said he’ll be spending Christmas with his son and his partner.
Aoife Teague, the content creator behind the video, was reunited with Mr McManus and the other actors in the video on Monday.
She previously created a St Patrick’s Day advert for the bar, but said the reaction to the festive ad had been amazing – particularly the comparisons to John Lewis.
“It’s a a dream, it’s absolutely unbelievable,” she said. “For people to think it’s similar – to say they like it as much as one of their ads.”
“It’s important to highlight that not everyone has that magical feeling at Christmas time,” she added.