5 reasons why the John Lewis Christmas ad is great

There aren’t many moments to make the British nation come together. We’ve all splintered off in different directions according to our choice of social media, forums, blogs, vlogs and websites.

Christmas is one where we all go mad for. At the same time.

Say what you will, but for me, Christmas officially starts when the John Lewis advert hits our screens. I remember The Bear and The Hare; I was working at Liberty running its editorial operation. Our Liberty Christmas Shop had been open for about a month. Surrounded by tinsel, baubles and the smell of Christmas pine, the Christmas spirit was absent. It was only when me and my team gathered round my photographer’s computer to watch the John Lewis ad that Christmas truly began.

I was alone in my office on Friday when this year’s #ManOnTheMoon advert premiered. I did not sob into my morning coffee, but there was definitely a lump in my throat. It didn’t take long for the Internet to react. Once again, @johnlewis showed us that he is the most patient man in the world.

When my colleagues rolled in, a debate unfolded. Some said it had a touch of paedophilia about it, others said it was the ‘same ol’ same ol’, and several others said that the Age UK partnership was a copy of what Sainsbury’s did with the The Royal British Legion last year.

There’s no doubt John Lewis uses the same Christmas formula year after year: A popular tune covered by a singer – preferably not so well known – delivered in a sentimental quirky way coupled with a storyline of ‘no matter where you are and no matter how hard, I will get a present to you’. You know what? It works.

Great casting

The man’s face speaks a thousand words. Of a life lived and loves lost.


Great song

By using an unknown singer (Aurora), the focus is taken away from the singer. You end up listening hard to the lyrics and focusing on the moving images.

The lyrics says it all.

I would like to leave this city
This old town don’t smell too pretty and
I can feel the warning signs running around my mind
And when I leave this island I’ll book myself into a soul asylum
And I can feel the warning signs running around my mind

So here I go still scratching around the same old hole
My body feels young but my mind is very old
So what do you say?
You can’t give me the dreams that are mine anyway
You’re half the world away
Half the world away
Half the world away
I’ve been lost I’ve been found but I don’t feel down.

It’s definitely worth listening to the original by Oasis. After the John Lewis Christmas ad, it’s enhanced my experience of the original.

The pause between key moments

Listen out for the counterpoints where the tune has a rest and the scene transitions to the next. The sort of quietly confident editing that can only be done by expert storytellers.

The countdown to Christmas can be about more than chocolates

#ManOnTheMoon encourages kids to learn one fact about the moon everyday in the countdown to the full moon on Christmas. The advent calendar can be more than about chocolates! The bit about the elves can stay though.

Girls can be into science

The protagonist is a little girl who’s into science. Did you know that 7 out of 10 girls are interested in science but only 2 out of 10 go on to pursue it?

Most people who love #ManOnTheMoon are parents. Particularly that generation of adults who have elderly parents and young kids.

#ManOnTheMoon also reminds me of the children’s books Beegu by Alexis Deacon and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

You see, it doesn’t matter that the #ManOnTheMoon is not wearing a space suit on the moon.

It’s all about suspension of disbelief.

Near the end of the closing credits of Inside Out, just after its list of production babies born to its crew during the making of the film, Pixar’s producers included the following:

“This film is dedicated to our kids. Please don’t grow up. Ever.”

And that, is the moral of the story.

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