Is John Lewis’ reign over?
For as long as I can remember John Lewis have dominated the Christmas Advert Game. They had the Iron Throne, they were The Chosen One, the Creme de la crème! Then came 2017 and John Lewis and their long-term agency Adam&Eve were banished from the Christmas Advert Garden of Eden. Their Moz the Monster commercial lost out to McDonalds ‘Kevin the Carrot’ coming only tenth in the ‘social lift’ list. Maybe John Lewis didn’t spend enough money? Oh, wait, no they spent £7m on it… the same amount they spent on the 2016 ‘Buster the Boxer’ advert yet that was voted the winning advert. So, they both had £7m spent on them, both featured children, both featured a fury friend so what went wrong?
One theory is that agency Adam&Eve were banished from Christmas Advert Garden of Eden because they took something that wasn’t theirs… and I don’t mean forbidden fruit! Award winning children’s author Chris Riddell has argued the Moz the Monster idea was taken from his 1986 book Mr Underbed. Whether this is true or not the thought John Lewis might have stolen an idea at Christmas makes them the Grinch not Santa.
On the other hand, maybe John Lewis have done nothing wrong? Maybe everyone else has just stepped up their game? It’s no longer the Big Four in this Christmas Advert competition since Aldi, Lidl, McDonalds and Very have thrown their hats into the ring as well. The winning formula also seems to be making its way around since a considerable amount of the adverts this year featured families, children, characters or animals. Relatable adverts have been proven to have more impact such as Tesco’s ‘Ever Which Way’ cooking turkey montage for example.
So, a possible answer to the John Lewis fall from grace is that their advert was in fact very good, just not as good as their rivals. Personally though, I just think John Lewis lost their story-telling ability. In the past, we’ve had a character (well a child), have a problem (penguin needs a girlfriend, a man stuck on the moon) and then in an unforeseen, uplifting heart-warming way the problem has been rectified by the joy and spirit of Christmas and a delightful gift from John Lewis (HURRAY!). So that brings us to Moz the Monster. We have our child, tick, we have our fluffy friend, tick, we have our problem, tick. Now what warm-hearted, unforeseen gift will solve our protagonist’s problem? Is the monster going to come celebrate Christmas with the family? Is he going to find his own family? Is he going to get a bed of his own so he doesn’t have to sleep under the little boys? What amazing, tear jerking, heart wrenching solution will John Lewis come up with? DRUM ROLL PLEASE…
A night light.
It took me 466 words but I have figured it out, John Lewis was ranked so low because they missed the spirit of Christmas. It doesn’t matter how much money you pump into an advert, who stars in it, directs it or shows it if the core message isn’t heart-warming. For me this year the North Star in a sky of Christmas Adverts was Heathrow Airport. It has teddy bears, a love story, family, a relatable situation and a lovely twist at the very end! Remember John Lewis, if it doesn’t warm the heart it isn’t a Christmas Advert. Better luck next year.