The annual John Lewis advert is here. As ever it hits you right in the feels. Unless you’re a cold-hearted cynic. Or just view it as a piece of marketing by cold-hearted cynics, designed to sell you TVs, furniture and soft cushions (bloody cushions).
I remember as a kid liking TV adverts. I still get a slight excitement when I hear “holidays are coming”. And the child-labour espousing evil of Geoffrey the Giraffe on the Toys R Us ad flew over my head to instead be a source of joy. In fact the reflexes of a thousand Christmases take over when you hand me an Argos catalogue.
But this was all when I was a kid. Now I’m a grown up (supposedly), and realise these aren’t insights into a magical world. They attempts to associate a time of year with a sugary drink and consumerism – diabetes be damned!
We’re grown ups. Why are we sat in anticipation waiting for something designed to flog us crap we don’t need, all by connecting their brand to an idea. A feeling. That everything will be alright if I buy more things.
And the latest ad for John Lewis is the worst. I like the idea of an emotive appeal to get older people involved in Christmas. Last year around half a million older people spent Christmas alone. That’s heartbreaking. But has fuck all to do with buying new cookware.
If this ad was asking me to donate my money to Age UK instead of buying a new tablet computer, then fair enough. If it wanted me to donate food for a group lunch so that old people don’t have to be alone, then I’m all for it. Hell, even if John Lewis were donating all their profits for the December period to show that it’s not about the money, then it’s probably OK. But it’s not. It wants me to buy more, and maybe, maybe, give some of it to an old person. Because old people need things too.
Even if we take it as a given that it’s a cash-grab by the company, they could at least get the narrative of the thing right. They want to help this poor, lonely man to feel loved and part of Christmas. Do they bring him into their home and feed him as one of the family? Or do they realise he can’t come to them, so they bring Christmas to him? Or, inspired by The Martian, do they come together to stage a valiant rescue attempt for this poor, stranded soul?
Do they fuck.
They send him a telescope.
“Here Grandad, watch all of us have fun, but you can’t come here because you’re old and smell of stale cabbage. Plus you might die and really ruin everyone’s enjoyment of the listening to a whiny rendition of the Royle Family theme tune on our new surround sound system from John Lewis.”
They might as well send him a brand new photo album, filled with all pictures of the fun and joy they had on their magical day, with a note saying “Maybe next year, eh old man?”
P.S. Really? Using an Oasis song for a Christmas ad? Well, I guess nothing sums up Christmas like thinking your brother is a dick.