Each year I eagerly await the new John Lewis Christmas ad...like a little kid does Christmas.
This year it's all about the classic 'monster under the bed'. Moz the monster of course befriends the boy and they become playmates but there seems not much more to them.
It's directed by an Academy award winning screenwriter Michel Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the music cover is the Beatles Golden Slumbers from Abbey Road performed by a rock band: Elbow.
John Lewis spends millions.
However, it just doesn't have the emotional firepower or anticipation of previous ads. There's no real feeling of it being Christmas either. It could be anytime of year. He did a wonderful 'year' scenario with Monty and the penguin. Nor does it seem particularly 'special' and I am talking about emotively special between the boy and MOZ.
It's just a bland synopsis of a kid having a monster under the bed. Christmas is aluded to when the kid gets a haircut and again suddenly when a badly wrapped gift (from the monster of course) of a starry nightlight that seems to calm his fears and lets him sleep. The 'monster' has now disappeared.
Usually when I see and hear a John Lewis Christmas ad I watch it over and over and relive the action, the emotion, the arc of the story always being emotional....but this year sadly it wasn't there for me.
And I had two thoughts: 1.) is this a plug for a plush monster toy being sold this year called MOZ and 2.) Will John Lewis also be selling the starry nightlight?
In all the years I have been watching these Christmas confections from Lewis I have NEVER thought about it commercially like I did this time.
The monster reminded me of a hybrid character cross from the Maurice Sendak classic kids story:
Where The Wild Things Are and a larger than life Sesame Street cookie monster.
Neither the child nor the monster were endearing to me. There wasn't enough there to make it endearing because the premise wasn't emotional.
And the music was completely wrong for this I thought. Usually the music in the Lewis adds contributes greatly to the emotion of the spot....not this year....it seemed totally out of place.
Of course the production values were top drawer...I mean come on with that budget at least that worked.
But in the end it didn't leave me with the same warm hearted feeling I usually get with a John Lewis ad. Maybe it's because the 'monster under the bed' is a cliched theme that just doesn't work at Christmas.
What it really lacked was heart. There just wasn't any heart in this one. It wasn't really about desire or love or longing which is what the Christmas season is all about. And is usually done so well by Lewis.
And yes, the Lewis ads are usually very cookie cutter from the standpoint of structure and premise.
And yes, they are schmaltzy....no question...but so is Capra's It's a Wonderful Life and everyone always watches it each season and cries in the same places....But that's a large part of what the holiday season is all about. It's at this time of year we have permission to be schmaltzy and be in touch with our deepest emotions...to be maudlin and reflective...to be childlike...
but not so this year from Lewis. John Lewis spends big in hopes of earning big for this critical season....as do all the retailers. Especially now with malls and brick and mortar shops closing or threatened with closing, in favor of Amazon and other online shops. And sadly this year is even more chancey for them.
But you know NOT every year is the same.
Expectations run exceedingly high for this ad. And it's hard to keep raising the creative bar each year....
but this time it definitely was an emptier stocking.....
I hope this isn't a premonition for the Christmas season.
I give this a sad 5 out of 10 unfortunately. And will look at my other John Lewis ads from previous years instead. Three are here on the blog if you feel like I do.
Or click here for a compendium of John Lewis Christmas ads: