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10Nov/170

All The Fucking John Lewis Christmas Adverts

So it's come to this. A John Lewis Christmas Advert rundown...

John Lewis #manonthemoon advert

2017 John Lewis Christmas Advert: Moz The Monster

 
I'll be honest with you, I'm losing this battle. Every year I come up with a new mode of attack on the John Lewis Christmas advert and every year they remain impassive - and then go ahead with another multi-million-spunking, heartstring-tugging bottom-lip trembler of an advert whose rough notation goes SAD-SAD-HAPPY-BUY AN EXPENSIVE BAR OF SOAP FOR SOMEONE YOU DON'T REALLY LIKE.
 

 
 

2016 John Lewis Christmas Advert: Buster The Boxer

 
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. 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.

 
 

2015 John Lewis Christmas Advert: Man On The Moon

 
Ah, #manonthemoon - the true meaning of Christmas. Vile emotional manipulation filtered through the prism of unfettered capitalism, masquerading as a kindly old spinner of yarns. If the festive period isn't for assuaging your guilt by shedding a tear at this annual emo-porn debacle, then I don't know what is.
 

 
 

2014 John Lewis Christmas Advert: Monty The Penguin

 
You could set your clock by John Lewis adverts - not simply by when they turn up, but exactly what ingredients and in what order. It's an equation, refined and reduced by lots of cash, but an equation nonetheless, designed as dispassionately and as calculatedly as engine mapping on a new car. Weep and you weep at maths.
 

 
 

2013 John Lewis Christmas Advert: The Bear and the Hare

 
I could come up with something like that in 30 minutes if I had a strong cup of tea and pack of Jaffa Cakes. Animals, sadness, snow, anthropomorphism, love. Shake them up with some nice visuals and a cover of a sad song and you've got something that's as easy to put together as pound cake. And a good deal more bittersweetly nauseating.
 

 
 

2012 John Lewis Christmas Advert: Snowman

 
We all know the form by now. An effort that is fairly explicitly trying to make you cry. A precision-guided Cupid's Arrow aiming to shatter your emotional aorta and cause a blockage of sludgey mawk in your left ventricle. A psychological heart attack in advert form. In this one a snowman - bereft of a comedic genital carrot fetches some gloves for his missus (also a snowperson, but with no snowtits in evidence), requiring a massive trek across, apparently, a bit of England that resembles the Alps.
 

 
 

2011 John Lewis Christmas Advert: The Long Wait

 
It seems to be John Lewis' modus operandi to make viewers cry these days, with their ads ploughing a fairly shameless furrow that seems to work for them. Next year's advert will apparently feature a sickly kitten being stroked in front of an open fire by Terry Wogan for a full 120 seconds, while Gary Jules' Mad World plays in the background.
 

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10Nov/171

2017 John Lewis Christmas Advert: Moz The Monster

So Elbow have graduated to John Lewis Christmas advert levels of fame, loveableness and National Treasure status. They're doing a cover of The Beatles' Golden Slumbers in the latest version of John Lewis' festiva Agent Orange assault on Britain's airwaves, involving a blue monster called Moz who oh who gives a flying fuck.

I'll be honest with you, I'm losing this battle. Every year I come up with a new mode of attack on the John Lewis Christmas advert and every year they remain impassive - and then go ahead with another multi-million-spunking, heartstring-tugging bottom-lip trembler of an advert whose rough notation goes SAD-SAD-HAPPY-BUY AN EXPENSIVE BAR OF SOAP FOR SOMEONE YOU DON'T REALLY LIKE.

John Lewis Christmas Advert: Moz The Monster

It's like someone smiling as you insult them, someone impervious to your irritation who keeps doing something irritating, a zombie that doesn't know it's dead. Every year John Lewis rises, yawning from its annual January - November dormancy and farts another 120 seconds of vastly expensive guff into the Twittersphere.

"Oh it's just a bit of fun," you say. No it isn't. It's a wholly predictable photocopy of last year's effort that only garners attention because the concept of John Lewis Christmas advert has generated a momentum of its own, giving lazy journos, hapless vloggers and doomed bloggers something to write about when they should be doing something more fruitful, exciting, life-affirming. Hell, just something.

None of this could happen without social media because, frankly, adverts just aren't that exciting, interesting or noteworthy. But Twitter and Facebook are full of people sharing the new John Lewis ad. Why? It's a genuine question. Just ruminate on that for a second. Habit, tradition or - more likely - obedience.

Share this stuff, some massive brand says. And we share it. I find that sinister and the full ramifications of this have become clear in the last two years when it's become very clear that it's extremely easy to motivate people to share your messages for lots of different reasons.

Give someone a message, a short video or a meme to share that gives them feels and you're laughing, whether your ultimate goal is to encourage them to buy an expensive pepper grinder or, say, propagate racial hatred.

So I blame John Lewis for its small part in demonstrating to lunatics, fascists and racists how easy people are on social media to manipulate.

Here's a tweet from Kate Lawler, someone who is most famous to me for being on Big brother in 1973, where she dutifully hashtags and @s the living shit of the new ad.

Is she being paid for this. And if not, why is she sharing this crap?

And newspapers. Newspaper promoting free advertising that ensures they won't get a cut of any of that advertising cash in the hope that the clicks and bumper ads they stick in front of the John Lewis ad somehow makes up for the fact they're slitting their own throats. Thank God we have the newspapers and their desperate, breathless cheerleading for a company that has learned to bypass them completely.

The whole thing has become almost cultish. A refusal to join in with the Christmas Spirit - now indicated by John Lewis firing a starting pistol (probably costing £199) - reminds me a little of the fury directed at those who choose not to wear a poppy, for wholly legitimate reasons.

For me the arrival of the John Lewis Christmas Advert is a totem for easily led people are - and how willing to submit themselves to groupthink they are. But let's not worry about that, there's a John Lewis advert to be shared.

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