The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Christmas Cheer …
November 27, 2012, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I know everyone will have probably seen this.

I know Mr Mortimer did a wonderful review of Supermarket Christmas ads [including our London offices freshly launched Tesco work] over on his blog recently.

I know you could argue that last years spot was better.

[Which I don’t think it was, despite being utterly great]

I know you could say the ‘character’ could have saved himself a lot of hassle by just ordering online.

But this spot from John Lewis is – in my opinion – just completely and utterly wonderful.

A simple, genuinely universal premise.

A totally fantastic soundtrack.

A story that’s beautifully shot with perfect grace & pace.

Characters that somehow capture, convey & induce emotion.

Fear, vulnerability, isolation, innocence, happiness, love.

Magical. Totally and unconditionally magical.

Apart from capturing the essence of gift giving [give from the heart, not the wallet] it just makes you feel utterly wonderful.

How just changing the twigs on the snowman’s mouth can make you understand the feelings that are supposedly going through his head is amazing.

We talk about storytelling like its some sort of science, but it’s not really – and this ad shows how it can be done so simply, elegantly and emotionally.

No wonder the agency behind it – Adam & Eve – got recently bought by DDB.

And for an alleged SIXTY MILLION QUID, despite having only started in 2008.

To think I thought we did well when we sold cynic. Talk about a reality check. Ha.

Now whether DDB overpaid is not my issue nor my business, the fact is this agency have created a body of work for John Lewis that has not only differentiated the brand from the copious amounts of competitors, but has created a genuine, emotional bond with people.

Maybe not all people.

But some.

And that’s the sort of gift every brand would like to receive this Christmas.

I wish – utterly, utterly wish – I had made this ad.

56 Comments so far
Leave a comment

that ad is almost as fucking fantastic as getting 60 million quid from the ddb boys.

Comment by andy@cynic

why the fuck didnt we sell to them instead of the happy chappies at mview? another short sighted decision from the short sighted planners.

Comment by andy@cynic

literally shortsighted. campbell wears milk bottles for specs.

Comment by andy@cynic

Is it because making mopeds isn’t as cool as making a popular christmas ad?

Comment by DH

ok campbell, heres your present. i agree with every fucking word youve written here. every bastard word. its fucking wonderful and shows adland has still fucking got it and theres no proprietary bollocks or 4 hour explanation of storytelling in sight.

Comment by andy@cynic

The science of storytelling: There is no science.

Comment by DH

the science of planning: there is no fucking science.

Comment by andy@cynic

I am utterly in shock. This must be heaven, not Christmas … though to be honest, seeing you in heaven is one of the most disturbing things I could imagine and a perfect demonstration of a brand not living up to its premise.

Comment by Rob

how the fuck do you think id feel?

Comment by andy@cynic

and any fucker that can make holly johnsons “oww oww oww” nasal vocals sound like enya on a very fucking rare good day is good by me. id not seen this ad because since campbell went rogue with my money, im not working in the bullshit industry, but this spot almost makes me want to dust off the nuclear clear out suit and head back in.

then i remember id have to work with people like campbell and that this ad is no fucking doubt the directors cut and the one every fucker sees is a 30 second cutdown that has been raped of all its charm and suddenly the vancouver moneypit seems just fucking fine.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re right Andy, the 30″ cutdown is no where near as good. The interesting thing is that when you see it, you long to see the full version, which says a lot for its quality.

Comment by Pete

of course im fucking right. why are you saying it like its a fucking surprise.

Comment by andy@cynic

Next year they should remake “relax” as the soundtrack just to totally fuck with people’s heads.

Comment by DH

I bet the soundtrack sold by the bucketload. Just like the good old days of 90’s advertising.

Comment by DH

Very good point David.

Comment by George

This is a great ad for all the reasons you state in the post. Simple premise, executed flawlessly, sprinkled liberally with large doses of charm and emotion.

Not hard and yet very difficult.

The best thing about the ad is that unlike the competitive ads I’ve seen, it captures the “romantic notion” of what Christmas is supposed to be. Yes, I’ve used your term from your post last week about book lights and hot chocolate, but it perfectly captures why this spot works so powerfully where others don’t connect so deeply.


Comment by Pete

I told you that romantic notion term would be adopted by all you planning types. I also said I’d kill myself if it was, so lets just move on knowing I was right.

Comment by DH

If WPP introduce the ‘romantic notion’ proprietary tool in the next few weeks, I’m going to sue.

Comment by Rob

Works for me. Beautiful in every way.
I agree with Peter, this works because they focused on what Robert’s calls, the “romantic notion.” This time it was people’s romantic notion of Christmas rather than the (according to the ads) female hell to make a day the family won’t ever forget.
Once upon a time that “tell it how it really is” strategy worked, but when everybody started following it, not to mention when everybody suffered financial hardship from the 2008 crash, going back to the heart of Christmas wasn’t just commercially differentiated, but emotionally craved.

Comment by George

something tells me you and campbell didnt exactly fucking suffer in the financial crisis. something tells me you and campbell exploited the situation by buying up cheap land. you probably own all of fucking greece.


Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by Rob

Nice point George … though the bigger issues is that too many brands develop their positioning based on what their competitors are doing rather than what is true to them [or their goals]

Tail wagging the dog so to speak.

But that aside, it’s another example of the need to appreciate – and use – cultural context insight in the development of work … not just category, brand or audience.

But I’m preaching to the converted so I’ll shut up now.

Comment by Rob

If someone bought me a pair of gloves I’d never talk to them again.

Comment by Billy Whizz

youre in luck then billy because no fucker will be buying you anything.

Comment by andy@cynic

Except for all the chicks.

Comment by Billy Whizz

you mean the women at the old folks home? forgot about them. they love looking after hopeless causes. so you win billy. except you lose at the same fucking time.

Comment by andy@cynic

Still a win.

Comment by Billy Whizz

What she really wanted was an iPad mini.

This is a very sweet ad but I know why Rob really likes it, it’s another of those triumph over adversity storylines that he loves so much.

Comment by Bazza

That’s true insight on display right there.

Comment by DH

The triumph over adversity bit, not the blatant sales promo comment. Anyway, the heat from the ipad would melt her wouldn’t it? In other words, it would make her go down on Mr Snowman.

Oh I see what you’re saying. The marriage was staid and boring and you think an overpriced kindle would put the flames back in their romance. iSex. Interesting Baz. Wrong on many levels, but interesting.

Comment by DH

You’re scaring me Dave.

Comment by Rob

You’re right Baz, I hadn’t even noticed it. No wonder I love it so much … and what a waste of blog post writing when that’s all I actually had to say.

Comment by Rob

I bet you liked ET too.

Comment by John

of course he fucking did, it showed him that ugly fucks with weird heads and limited speech and intelligence can find love too. havent got the fucking heart to tell him it was a film, not a documentary. and i definitely havent got the heart to tell him jill is a hot scientist not a hot wife.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes it’s good, but it’s not what most people will see.

Comment by John

i already said that doddsy. keep the fuck up.

Comment by andy@cynic

Your words are always worth repeating.

Comment by John

crawler. but youre fucking right.

Comment by andy@cynic

Minus points for stealing the Dr Who weeping angels idea

Comment by northern

your daughter is still doing her cia sleep deprivation tactics on you i see. shes got future managing director written all over her.

Comment by andy@cynic

More like he’s stayed up to watch youporn while the other northerners sleep soundly in their beds.

Comment by DH

Well at least they stole from something good, not some random sketch on a random, late night, channel 5 show like so many others do.

Comment by Rob

oi campbell. being an only child id of suspected a good christmas present for you was all about the wallet, not the heart.

Comment by andy@cynic

Presents from the wallet ARE presents from the heart.


Comment by Rob


Comment by andy@cynic

Wonderful spot. That said, the 30″ version doesn’t come anywhere close to having the emotional impact of the 90.

Comment by Lee Hill

I saw that version last night, you’re right.

Where some would say the 90″ and the 30″ represents a battle between creative and media supremacy, I would say it’s far more a philosophical argument, in other words the battle between repetition or impact.

But hey, that’s just me.

Comment by Rob

There is no science when we need to talk about emotions and engage with something that is not rational. That why creativity is magic and this is indeed a very very nice add with a very nice song indeed. I wish you did it too 🙂

Comment by Cyril

It works because it touches the emotional nerve endings. Simple as that. Lovely.

Comment by holycowiAM

Yep, but what’s scary is that so many companies talk about touching emotional nerve endings, but so few create work that actually does it. Or at least does it with this emotional impact.

Comment by Rob

i fucking like it already.

and i bet she ends up divorcing him saying a pair of gloves shows how he doesnt understand her or give a fuck about her happiness.

and shell win.

then hell have to sell his ass in some public park toilets to keep the ungrateful fuck in ice cubes.

Comment by andy@cynic

He got her gloves but what did she get him?

Comment by Billy Whizz

A blowjob

Comment by Northern

you mean a snowjob.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks for the link by the way!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

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