Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Annual John Lewis 2018 Christmas Ad

John Lewis pays tribute not to Christmas, but to an institution about as revered in England: Elton John or Sir Elton John as he's now referred to.
This is a two minute very glossy retrospective of Sir Elton John's career and how he started it by being gifted a piano-the implied message being it was purchased at John Lewis-when he was but a young boy.

I am a North American who honestly doesn't find Elton John's music as iconic as the Brits do.
His canon of work has made him a superstar and made him exceedingly rich...hence the Sir before his name, and obviously John Lewis feels Sir Elton John's 'story' will touch the Brits enough to imagine their own little Elton or Eltoona banging away on a piano purchased from John Lewis....which by the way is a product John Lewis has just started carrying since this ad launched. John Lewis hadn't sold a piano in 70 years apparently until this ad dropped.

So instead of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" it's been goodbye to John Lewis' usual charming, highly anticipated and festive Christmas ads, to embracing a storyline about Elton John which reads as fictitiously as "The Night Before Christmas." This is an ollllllddd chestnut they have roasted here for a story of Elton John. It's the "A Star is Born" short....starring Elton John....glitzy, glossy, syruppy,
sappy, over art directed, the mum is sooo stereotypical, noooo dad in sight, uptight little and bespectacled prim and proper Elton at a local recital and a choppily edited mixed bag of real and photoshopped and setup shots of John's easy/fast/spectacular "A Star Is Born' rise to mythicalness in 120 seconds.

Perhaps Sir Elton John has purchased the John Lewis stores? Or is now the major shareholder? Or
is planning on flogging his own line of Elton John pianos? Dunno.

But this is one weird ad. And it's one of two Christmas ads John Lewis has done in a row now that are a complete 'swing and a miss' for me who so loved the store's ads in years past.
This is just too much of a tribute to Elton John than a universal Christmas message for my taste.
It's indulgent and panders to a level of fame made mythical with this fictional tale of Elton John's life.
The underlying message being he's a boy who came up from nothing and so might you. And it all began with a gift...welllllll it just doesn't have the universal charm or the emotional connection most of the John Lewis ads have had in the past. It's just all about Elton John.

And now that Sir Elton is himself into his 70's he's become maudlin. But instead of reviving his band like so many of his era are trying to do, he has chosen to co-opt John Lewis into revisiting his past through those big round rose colored glasses he used to wear at all his performances and now has forced John Lewis customers to wear them as well.

I for one just am not buying it. And I wish John Lewis hadn't either. Pity.

I give this ad a generous 2 out of 10.  And hope John Lewis can shake these last two years off and  get back on track for Christmas 2019.