“It HAS to be out by now, surely?” My housemate Katy burst into my room on the morning of 10th November. After a few minutes of googling, we reached the conclusion that the advert would be coming out soon, possibly even that very day. Over the past few years, the John Lewis Christmas advert has been released between 5th and 11th November. When it came on the late date of 14th November, the two of us were more than ready for it.
The John Lewis Christmas ad has, in recent years, become regarded as the beginning of the Christmas season for many of us. With their moving seasonal tales, the adverts have gained a sacred place in the heart of the nation’s outlook of Christmas, and it goes without saying that other retailers have only strived to compete with the hype surrounding John Lewis’ Christmas advertisement release date.
In our anticipation for the ad’s release, my flatmates and I found ourselves re-watching the past John Lewis Christmas ads, and attempting to work out which one it was that we found the best of the bunch. It’s difficult to rank them, because a lot of the ads are so different, but there are some very similar threads between the successful ones.
A ballad in the background is a must. Ranging from Gabriella Aplin to Tom Odelle to Lily Allen, John Lewis have made use of the moving soundtrack time and time again. Then there’s the ongoing theme of showing someone how much they are loved and valued, seen through different families, animals and the odd snowman. For example in 2011’s classic The Long Wait, we see the young boy restless in his wait for Christmas, with the twist being that his excitement actually amounts to wanting to give his parents a gift, rather than the anticipation of him wanting to be receiving presents.
There’s no doubt about it, John Lewis have successfully captured the magic of Christmas with their touching tales of love and gratitude, reinventing their messages in different forms each year. Therefore, I continue to be a little wary before pressing the play button each year to watch the advert for the first time.
2018’s Christmas advert follows the tale of Elton John and the growth of his career as a result of having owned a piano. As always, the ad is edited wonderfully, with each shot sliding effortlessly into the next. The soundtrack is a proven success story in John Lewis advert history, as Your Song’s Ellie Goulding cover back in 2010 was arguably career making. I enjoyed the return to the hit in its organic form, reminding us all of the true magic of Elton John and his marvellous career.
The message of the advert is admirable. In the midst of an ever-expanding technological world, the creative aspects of life need to be nurtured. The amount of children learning musical instruments has decreased over the years, and it is more common to see youngsters playing on an iPad than running to a piano stool or picking up a paintbrush. Although the message is subtle, the message of the beauty a present can offer a child in a permanent sense is reassuring. Perhaps it is fair to say that the advert emphasises the career of Elton John more successfully than its concluding message, but that does not mean to say that the takeaway thought from the ad is not powerful. Giving something that offers more than superficial interest is perhaps what society has moved away from. Investing in our creativity and skills is important, arguably more so than investing in the latest iPhone model.
~ Cesca Getty