The John Lewis Christmas Advert(s): Our Thoughts

As soon as we see the final fireworks from Bonfire Night, there’s one main event left in the calendar to look forward to, and that, ladies and gents, is Christmas.

How do we mark the beginning of the Christmas season?

The John Lewis Christmas Advert, of course. John Lewis, the UK based department store, and its TV adverts, have become a prominent feature in the British population’s lives at this time of year. They have managed to capture the attention of the nation due to their emotive, heart-warming, often tear-jerking Christmas adverts.

If you haven’t already seen it, this year’s Christmas advert tells us the story of Moz the Monster, who lives under a young child, Joe’s, bed. Instead of scaring the child, they become friends. Moz gifts Joe with a nightlight to help him sleep and then, on Christmas night, he disappears.

Having worked with adam&eveDDB since they began these Christmas adverts, John Lewis have established themes of love, friendship and selflessness around the Christmas giving period, with some making us weep more than others.

At Fox Socks, we’ve rated our favourites, let’s see how they compare:

 

Charlotte

#1 Man On The Moon

 

#2 Monty The Penguin

 

#3 The Journey

Dislike: Hare and the Bear – “It’s fully animated which loses the John Lewis feel, and the song choice is different to usual, it’s too much of a step away from what was already working! Also, aren’t bears meant to hibernate in winter? Leave him alone!”

 

Lee

#1 The Long Wait

 

#2 The Journey

 

#3 Man On The Moon

Dislike: Moz the Monster – “The monster gives the child the gift, so we’ve lost the element of selflessness, as it’s all about the child getting the gift this time.”

 

Laura

#1 Man On The Moon

 

#2 Monty The Penguin

 

#3 Buster The Boxer

In terms of least favourite, I second Lee. Before I go any further, I need to address the fact that Moz has a very questionable nose. It bounces and flops around in the advert quite unsettlingly which admittedly gained most of my attention in the first watch. Additionally, and probably quite fortunately, the toy version in the shops looks barely anything like the monster, with a fully attached nose and oddly spiky ears. He’s cute though!

Now that’s out of my system, let’s explore things further:

Embracing diversity

It is certainly worth congratulating John Lewis on the diverse family they used this year. Similar to last year, it demonstrates another step in the right direction towards equality in advertising. This echoes the diversity and inclusion amongst all ages in the Man on the Moon advert, too. The fact that each advert partners with a different charity provides an extra element of trust to the brand. This year, the charity is Barnardo’s. It’s a shame it isn’t made clear in the advert.

The power of love music

Music can greatly influence how adverts are perceived by the audience. It’s often the thing that’s circulating our brains for hours after we’ve seen one!  John Lewis tend to utilise well known songs, but to use different artists to cover the songs in dream-like, stripped-back versions to compliment the visuals and emotion they aim to portray. They’ve used songs by the likes of Oasis, The Smiths and this year, The Beatles. For the gift-buying audience, the sound of a familiar song, albeit by a different singer, could evoke memories of childhood, or previous points in life. This nostalgia may bring back excitement and fond memories, helping to ignite their Christmas spirit.

What’s the message?

The message which appears just before the end of the John Lewis Christmas advert often implies an action, such as ‘Show someone they’re loved at Christmas’, or ‘Give someone the Christmas they’ve dreamed of’, encouraging people to get into the shop or get online and shop for their loved ones. This year, however, ‘For gifts that brighten their world’ seems passive and doesn’t exclaim a call to action, which isn’t half as strong.

Something which did get us talking was that, usually, the ads show the child eagerly awaiting Christmas with the burning excitement of giving gifts, yet this year, the child is the receiver. And it’s the monster who gives him the present. I can’t quite picture a monster wandering round John Lewis with his shopping list. Moz disappears after he’s given the present, which doesn’t really seem to harness the feel of Christmas. You make a friend, give him a present, and then disappear forever? Ouch.

Pleasing the masses vs being creative

John Lewis’ Facebook page posted the video and in the first two hours gained approximately 1.1 million views, which is 5 times less than Buster the Boxer last year in the same time period, which is a pretty huge contrast. Within the first 3 hours of social interactions with the ad, 76% were positive and 24% negative.

The negative reactions beg the question as to whether customer complaints have impacted creativity. Man on the Moon received some public backlash, claiming that it was too sad. The point of the advert is to evoke emotion. Being in conjunction with Age UK, I would assume they want us to think of the reality: those who are lonely, elderly, maybe with no family at Christmas, and spare a thought for them. But alas, others reckon it’s ‘sadvertising’, and a step too far.

As a result of that, it feels as though the following adverts haven’t been quite as heart-warming, or relatable as they once were. I can certainly relate to ‘The Long Wait’ until Christmas, and while Buster the Dog on the trampoline was pretty cute and we all smiled, how can we relate to how a dog feels?

I digress. Back to the customer complaints. This year, parents have already been complaining that the ad is making the ‘monster under the bed’ a real thing for young kids, and scaring them. If you watch the advert fully, the monster actually looks out for him. Nothing to be scared of. Obviously, customer feedback is crucial to development of relationships and strategies, but should we be able to draw a line at how much it can influence, or even restrict, creativity?

Supply vs demand

Let’s look at the impact of it, then. Well, the night light which Moz gifts to Joe sold out in stores and online within hours of the advert being released. Impressive, huh? Maybe, yes, but selling out so soon indicates that they were not prepared for the influx of purchases which would be bound to happen as a result of such an eagerly anticipated advert. It doesn’t give the best message when you’re advertising something that barely anybody can get their hands on! I suppose, if nothing else, they can pick up the toy-that-looks-nothing-like-the-monster.

John Lewis have been great in replying to customer comments, particularly on Facebook, about the advert and the sell-out, responding with differing stills of the advert alongside their comments, which gives a personalised touch to interactions. On Twitter, they’ve been able to utilise snippets of the advert as GIFs as comments, and have been able to give Moz a voice on there as opposed to more of a narrative voice from John Lewis on Facebook comments.

All in all, Moz the Monster itself is well made, and it feels like a John Lewis advert, it just doesn’t feel like as much emotion has gone in to it. Perhaps complaints from this year will influence next year’s creative; how much longer can John Lewis re-create their take on thoughtful giving whilst having maximum impact and pleasing everybody?

… Or has their heyday already ended?

Laura

Laura is a content marketing intern at Fox Socks Limited. She enjoys going to gigs and cooing at cats (even though she's allergic). When Laura isn't talking campaigns with the FS team, she spends her time studying for her masters in Marketing (Communications), writing her own hilarious blog, and tweeting about the Gallaghers @loz_wald