The new John Lewis ad

I’d almost forgotten how much people like to give their opinions on the ad du jour.

Well, there’s currently no ad du jourier than this one:

I think it’s fascinating how the JOHN LEWIS AD has become a national event, with significance far beyond the ad itself. It’s also singlehandedly turned the UK Christmas season into an extended version of America’s Superbowl, where the biggest brands compete for the nation’s cash through the medium of quite long, emotional ads.

(And there’s that word emotional. I mentioned yesterday that those of us who speak English tend to use ’emotional’ to convey a feeling that we don’t really have a word for. It’s kind of a happy/sad, often nostalgic sensation that we can’t put our finger on. And despite having a massive vocabulary (we have 800,000+ words, four times more than German), we still haven’t managed to come up with an agreed upon collection of letters that conveys the thing we limply call ’emotional’. And yet we have a very precise word for a situation in which many men ejaculate on a woman’s face at the same time. How odd of us…)

Sorry, back to the ad:

I think John Lewis has become a little bit of an Arsene Wenger: they set the bar so high in the early days that anything that doesn’t measure up to the first successes is tinged with a little negativity. Is it up there with the little boy who is just gagging to give his parents a present? Or the bear and the hare? Will it spawn the obligatory number one single with a remarkably twee version of some other ditty (this time it’s erstwhile Oasis B-side and Royle Family theme tune Half The World Away)?

So even though it’s much better than 99% of ads that have been on TV this year, it’s not one of my favourite JL ads. The story is nice enough, but that old man is a bit creepy. I think it might have helped if they’d cast someone who could more immediately elicit sympathy. Instead, I’m kind of relieved that this fella is trapped on the moon, and not, for example, down here offering Werther’s Originals to passing schoolkids. I get that he’s representing all the lonely old people and Christmas, and find this giant arrow pointed in the direction of their plight a GOOD THING, but next time get one who’s a bit more likeable. And maybe don’t give him a telescope so he can spy on little girls.

Anyway, some journalists with nothing better to write about are reading far too much into it, while others have christened the old man ‘Moon Hitler’, so the buzz machine is in full swing: job done. Again. This kind of consistent quality is very hard to pull off, so it’s to the massive credit of A&E DDB that they’ve managed to make such an enormous splash for the umpteenth year in a row.

(By the way, there’s a kind of mini script under the YouTube link that contains a ghastly ad-ism: ‘Lily watches on as our man goes about his chores, all alone up there.’ I hate the use of ‘our man’ in scripts. It’s lazy and poor writing that you only find in ad scripts, but to be honest I don’t think I’ve seen it in maybe fifteen years.)

Let’s leave the last word to Goldie Lookin’ Chain: