John Lewis / Waitrose Bohemian Rhapsody Advert

John Lewis : Waitrose Bohemian Rhapsody Advert

I am immune to the supposed delight of other peoples’ children, specifically the sound of the them singing. The sound of children laughing – heck, even my dormant hormones stir a little in their long slumber – but children singing? Genuinely horrible noise. Children are rubbish singers. And so it goes with this John Lewis / Waitrose Bohemian Rhapsody advert.

What have we got here? There’s some robots, some kids (awwww!) singing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, something about robots… it’s a spot of blah because John Lewis and Waitrose are doing something with their branding and everyone must know about it. The tagline interests me – “For us it’s personal” – because this advert has hit the airwaves, probably at some obscene price, just as John Lewis is sacking 270 of its staff. I’m sure the irony is not lost on them.

John Lewis : Waitrose Bohemian Rhapsody Advert

John Lewis, of course, is usually in hibernation at this time of year, waking only to spunk twelvety billion pounds on an advert in which a:

CGI / old / young;
person / animal / creature;
is sad / is sad / is sad.

When John Lewis ventures out of its natural Yuletide habitat its adverts generally involve children in some way, so to deliver a precision-guided arrows of consumerism straight to the hearts of weepy parents with crap drawings on their fridges, emotions utterly shot through years of looking after small humans and deep, deep wallets full of cash unspent on the nights out, city breaks and romantic holidays rendered impossible by enslavement to their offspring.

John Lewis : Waitrose Bohemian Rhapsody Advert

What else are they spend money on, but expensive and unnecessary kitchenware, expensive and unnecessary aspirational food, and expensive and unnecessary bed linen, straight from your friendly John Lewis and Waitrose stores?

And because this advert has a lot of money and a John Lewis logo lavished on it, people on social media are simultaneously evacuating their bladders, orgasming and weeping at the same time – as if they have swapped all of their mental faculties for one big gland that responds solely to emotions, pinballing from weepy mawkishness to an almost feral desire to spend £38 on a selection of herb-infused olive oils for that woman at work they don’t like.

John Lewis : Waitrose Bohemian Rhapsody Advert

So forgive me if I don’t join you in dabbing at your cheeks, getting slightly tumescent and feeling the need to do John Lewis’s job for them by sharing it all over social media. I know it’s not Christmas yet, despite John Lewis buying the festive season in 2012, but bah fucking humbug.

Crimes Against Music: Flash, Dacia Queen Adverts

Flash Queen flashdog advert

Let’s get this out the way: I don’t much care for Queen. Radio Ga-Ga, Somebody To Love and Under Pressure can go toe-to-toe with any tune out there, but for my money Queen yo-yos between novelty band and embarrassing Dadrock.

But that doesn’t mean I approve of the ongoing pillaging of the Queen back catalogue by whoever waves a big enough cheque at whoever holds the rights to what’s probably one of the most lucrative bodies of work in Western music. A body of work crammed full of catchy hooks, memorable choruses and quotable lyrics, just waiting for some vast mechanised system to come along and greedily hoover them up and spit them out covered in shit.

In fact – and I’m looking at you Dacia and Flash – it’s one of the most egregious things I can think of. Whenever I see these adverts all I can think of is someone gleefully pissing straight in the faces of the people who love this music: the sort of casual disrespect of someone knocking the heads off your daffodils for shits and giggles.

Just image your favourite band’s music being forcefully taken up the bum without so much as a smear of vaseline, just so some crap car or chemically pap manages to get a single clawhold in your head in the very unlikely chance that you might vaguely considering buying one (or some).

Those songs that make you smile, make you cry. They might remind you of your cherished childhood, of your first (or lost) love. Schooldays, holidays. Maybe a departed friend or relative. Music is a constant companion and the power of a favoured song by a much-loved band can transcend most other experiences in the right place and right time. We celebrate to it; weep to it. It unites us and allows us to tune into a shred empathy more than perhaps any other experience in life. Music is brilliant and it is beautiful.

And then an advertiser comes along, takes that thing that you love and treasure and turns it against you. Not only is that music roughly wrestled from your grasp, it’s perverted and transformed into something awful by advertising. And it’s no mistake. Making you hate these adverts isn’t some unintentional by-product: it’s purely, coldly and cruelly deliberate.

Let’s say you open the door to me. I introduce myself and then hand you a tenner, make my farewell and head off into the night. You’d remember that.

Now image that you open the door to me, I introduce myself to you then slap you in the face. Guess which one you’d find more memorable.

Now – and here’s what the likes of Flash and Dacia are doing in this metaphor – imagine I introduce myself to you then explain that I’ve tattooed Donald Trump’s horrible hate-contorted visage on the face of your partner. Imagine when you ask why I would do such a thing I shrug and say this: “So you’ll never forget the moment when I ruined something you loved forever, just so you’d remember it”.

That’s what Procter & Gamble did when it Oked this Flash advert. And it’s what Renault did when it OKed this Dacia advert. Not because they hate they you, not because they want to ruin music for you.

another one drives a duster advert

Because anything and everything that can be used against you – love, hate, fear, insecurity, hope and nostalgia – will be used against you if someone thinks it can be used to sell you something.

I don’t have the words for how utterly abysmal both of these adverts are. They’re so bad I’m sure it can only be deliberate, because the worse they are the more impactful they are. In this way advertising ensures that, sooner or later, all of our treasured music, films, actors and stories will be chewed up and spat out in the hope of ring-fencing a minute speck of your brain so that, the next time you’re in Tesco, some unknown impulse makes you pick up a bottle of chemical detergent and put it into your trolley.