Why I Like The John Lewis Christmas Ad

The John Lewis Christmas advert was shown on TV this week, and, as usual, it appears to have whipped up a bit of controversy. Not necessarily for all of the ‘right’ reasons either; many people are complaining that it isn’t festive and it’s one big Elton John advert.

I disagree.

If you haven’t seen the ad yet, take a look:

Note that my blog post is called ‘Why I Like The John Lewis Ad’ and not ‘Why I Love The John Lewis Ad.’ It’s not my favourite one of their ads. I’m not sure anything will ever compare to the Man on the Moon one of 2015, which still gives me goosebumps thinking about it. No, I don’t love it, but I do like it. A lot. It gave me the goosebumps and the lump in the throat which I’ve come to expect from the JL Christmas ad.

We all take our own messages away from things, and reading various threads and comments about it, it appears that everyone is reading different things into it, and I wanted to talk about what I see in the advert, and why I think it is actually really very lovely.

Christmas has become so commercialised. We are all part of that – advent calendars, North Pole breakfasts, Elf on the Shelf, Christmas Eve boxes. Let’s not even get started on the fact it used to be about a quid to go and see Santa Claus and now it’s more like £12. It’s so easy to get sucked up into it and forget what it’s about. Kids have huge Christmas lists, and we as parents want to make them happy, so bust a gut to get everything on there. We know that most of those toys are going to be abandoned at the bottom of the toy box within a few weeks until the next lot of toys hit. As a blogger, who does get to review and try out lots of toys, I’m even more aware of that.

That is what, in my opinion, John Lewis is pushing back against. People are complaining about the fact that a piano, which on their website costs over £800, is an entirely unrealistic gift. That’s the whole point though – they’re not trying to sell you a piano. They’re trying to sell you the idea of a meaningful gift – a gift that will make the difference to a child and perhaps change the course of their life. Not some crappy £85 plastic egg full of tat, but something that might inspire them, in the way that a piano inspired Elton John. Christmas shouldn’t be about the gifts, but there is a lot to be said for choosing a present that really means something to someone.

There’s also been a lot of comments about it being a big plug for Elton John and his upcoming tour and film. Maybe it is – but I had no idea until I read the comments about the advert that he was even touring again and had a movie coming out. If they intended to promote that – they failed when it came to me! I saw it as them picking an iconic British musician, who has had vast amounts of success over many decades to push forward an important message. If a three-year-old Elton hadn’t received that piano from his Grandma, would he still have taken that path and be who he is today?

Maybe it isn’t the most Christmassy of adverts, but the message behind it –  giving a gift that would be treasured forever – is.

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