I knew two things that bothered me about the new Christmas John Lewis advert straight away. I don’t even have to think about it any more – it’s more of an instinct, as if I’ve tuned into to some cosmic understanding of advertising and I can see the code running through it. John Lewis clearly adopts the position that if something ain’t broke it’s not worth fixing it and, while it may not actually be powered by an algorithm, you could shade it in with varying degrees of mawkishness, children, snow, animals and general naffness.
But back to those two things in 2016’s Christmas John Lewis advert. The first is that it’s pretty much a straight rip of popular internet meme that features, er, a boxer dog on a trampoline. I can’t vouch for himn being called Boxer, but he might as well be. There used to be an advertising blog called Copycunts that called out this sort of
stealing inspiration-taking, but I don’t think it goes anymore, so I’m doing the job.
Secondly, all those CGI animals. I know that we all love animals and we like to pretend they live in a Wind In The Willows-style fantasyland where they’re all mates and roll meatballs at one another and sound like Billy Crsytal and David Jason but… they’re not.
The urbanisation afforded by a couple of shots here – the naughty foxes appearing for a nighttime frolic and a phone box glimpsed in the background – seem too deliberate to be accidental here. It’s like John Lewis is trying to say ‘we’re for everyone really – as long as you don’t mind paying £25 for a flavoured olive oil giftset’.
But this thing about animals. Humans destroy animals; they destroy the places animals live. Christmas, shopping, huge warehouses, massive lorries – few of thee things are good news for animals. When I see Christmas John Lewis advert in which one of their trucks squashes a badger flat on the road in one of their patented festive messages I’ll print my approval.
I don’t hate Christmas. I love Christmas, but I don’t need a supermarket to fire a starting pistol for me and tell me how I’m supposed to feel about it. Imagine Theresa May, with her haunted headteacher stare, broadcasting a 100-second party political broadcast telling you sternly to enjoy Christmas and vote Conservative. That’s what it’s like. Imagine Tony Blair frowning into the camera with his cold, dead, shark-like eyes and telling you he’s not a war criminal and, by the way, merry Christmas. Imagine Nigel Farage. Just imagine him, the little shit. Ugh.
We live in an age where, apparently, we don’t like people telling us what to do. Unless that involves a department store using a computer-generated animal to make you go shopping and post soppy scrap all over Facebook celebrating your compliance with an advertising message.
Go on, do your duty. Go and share the John Lewis advert on Facebook like the dutiful consumers you are.