The New John Lewis Christmas Ad Is Pure (Moon) Cheese

By Patrick Coffee 

As dumb Americans, we have never set foot in a John Lewis store and probably will not do so any time in the near future.

We are, however, aware of the brand thanks to the sappy ads it releases each Christmas. Quite a few industry observers have (honestly) called the latest edition by adam&eveDDB “much-anticipated,” and it’s already earned well over a million views since being released last night.

It follows an established trend: retail ads that do not even really touch on the brands being promoted. These stories are almost always told through the eyes of children, and they carry some sort of larger, emotionally manipulative message.

The point of this one: don’t forget to buy a gift for yer mum’s dad this year, kids! (And do it at John Lewis, OBVIOUSLY.)

No twist, no angle, no return to reality. The ad sort of resembles BBDO Atlanta’s recent anthem spot for Toys ‘R’ Us except that, in this one, the little girl doesn’t get anything in return for paying attention to the lonely old man beyond a bit of self-satisfaction.

Yes yes, we know, she made an emotional connection to the guy on the moon and the point is that we shouldn’t ignore old, isolated people over the holidays. There’s an app, a charity, a bunch of branded merchandise, et cetera. So many feels.

The ad is big enough to allow for some off-color jokes.

It’s also big enough to inspire “creative technologist” Lee Probert to make a mashup of The Man on the Moon and The Martian, which is kind of fun.

Marketing Magazine and other pubs even asked various UK industry folks to weigh in right when it went live.

From David Carr of DigitasLBi:

“#ManOntheMoon hasn’t veered far from the much-copied formula of ‘cute animal/kid + breathy female cover of a Guilty Pleasure = Popular Cultural Advertising’, but when John Lewis distinctively own that territory, why should they?”

We guess they shouldn’t? Our favorite line from him: “There’s also no Lily Allen this year, which is great.” CSO Leo Rayman of Grey London also has a take:

“Truth is when you’ve got a big cultural platform at Christmas it feels only right to do some good with it. Christmas is about ‘giving’ right? Last year’s Penguin spot did – I think – have some sort of charitable connection. But I can’t really remember it.”

Next in The Guardian comes Mark Goodwin, creative director at M&C Saatchi:

“You can snipe about how much it cost or the lack of respect for the laws of astrophysics (or optics, for that matter), but it seems churlish not to like it – especially as it highlights the loneliness of the elderly at Christmas.”

Sure. Finally, from Stephen Foster of More About Advertising:

“Emotionally uplifting or lachrymose nonsense? The former I think, but it teeters uncomfortably close to the brink at times. Reminds you how good Oasis could be and it’s the music that gets it over the line.”

OK, he lost us. Oasis was never good.