John Lewis, The Man, The Moon and The Ad


By now, you must have seen it. If not on TV, then in the subsequent media coverage. Yup the new John Lewis Christmas advert is out.

And we all get teary eyed, and exclaim how wonderful it is.

Wonderful that a TV advert can get us all ‘totes emosh’.  

Up until this year, it seemed that we found it wonderful that we were suddenly emotionally inspired to buy a £95 teddy bear or £15 alarm clock. (sales of them went up 55% the week after first broadcast)

This year’s is a bit different though. While there’s still the key product that I’ve no doubt will see an increase in sales (though the telescope isn’t nearly as powerful as the ad might suggest) and the obligatory host of associated ‘man on the moon’ stocking filler products, this year’s campaign has a bit more meaning behind it.

Firstly, with lunar lookouts in stores, it’s linking in quite neatly with the full moon on Christmas Day, which, as well as boosting sales of telescopes, might boost kids’ interest in astronomy, and science.

Secondly ( and I feel it is secondly and secondary) there’s also a partnership with Age UK, tying in with the theme of showing someone they’re loved this Christmas, and tackling loneliness in older people. The website links to a donate page, and… well.. thats about it.

To be honest, it seems a bit like the equivalent of ‘green washing’, adding a charity aspect to a planned campaign, to help ward off the cynics.

I am one of those cynics. In fact, I had a blog topic prepared, and I’m not sure that this has done enough to warrant me not writing about that.

You see, for Age UK, it doesn’t seem to have a concrete aim – financial or otherwise, and this is a campaign that cost £7m to produce.

Howard Lake goes into more detail about the promotion of the Age UK aspect here.

Certainly in the immediate discussion and publicity of the advert, I didn’t see many talking about the partnership aspect. In the days since, I haven’t seen much either. Spoofs, yes, anything about actually doing something for the people Age UK is trying to help, no.  An occasional mention, or an aside, that the ad is in partnership with Age UK, but no aims, no call to action, no clear goal.

Which brings me back to the topic I’d planned originally.

Why are we waiting for a company to show an advert that plucks the heartstrings and makes us cry / fills us with joy / reminds us that GIVING feels even better than receiving?

Where is the charity Christmas advert that generates is level of anticipation and emotion? I know, of course, that only a handful of charities have the budget to produce and air one (especially at this peak time) – so perhaps the opportunity lies, not for one charity to seize this opportunity, but for several to work together?

While charities are being told that they should stop using “emotions to blackmail people into giving“, it seems that some companies are celebrated for doing this – maybe charities will benefit from the Christmas spirit too if we create our own campaign. 

Or would that double standard remain?