The story starts on a wintry Christmas eve, where we see a father and his fumbling, frosted fingers assemble a trampoline for his daughter, who is tucked away in bed. Once the job is complete and the garden is undisturbed, two curious foxes emerge from the bushes, discover the garden’s new addition and, of course, start to bounce on it. Soon they are joined by their other urban animal friends, and so they all jump together merrily on their new find. It’s a magical scene and all very uplifting until we realise that Buster the Boxer isn’t included in the fun. He watches in longing, from the inside of the house, only wishing that he could join the other animals.
Morning comes and the awakened child dashes downstairs in excitement. At the sight of her new present, the elated girl carries on eagerly towards it. Then all of a sudden and to everyone’s surprise, a zealous Buster overtakes and leaps onto the trampoline which he had once only dreamed of having, then continues to spring in ecstasy.
It’s a sweet and humorous story; the creators of this advert have got people laughing for sure. However the question must be posed: Is there not something that we’re missing here, something with a bit more meaning?
John Lewis is renowned for its Christmas adverts, they’ve almost become their own Christmas tradition, and are known well to pull on the heart strings. So why is it that the advert for 2016 seems a little less emotive than usual? It has potential; it has the charm of winsome creatures and a snowy setting, but the overall message doesn’t inspire the same sentimentality that those in the past have.
What happened to Christmas being a time for togetherness, a time for family and friends? It seems that in this Christmassy consumerist world, the dog watched from the window in longing, not for companionship of the other animals, but for the trampoline (£289.99 from the John Lewis ‘Buster and Friends’ online shop).
From a marketing point of view, adverts (Christmas ones especially) are often at their best when they evoke some kind of emotion, so that people feel a connection with, and therefore more loyal to, the brand. However, it’s hard to feel an emotional connection with this advert because, while it does have a humorous element, it misses a heart-warming one.
Take for instance the 2016 Waitrose Christmas advert; we are taken on a journey with the robin and therefore feel a connection with it. In the 2016 Marks and Spencer’s Christmas advert, it’s sweet that the boy who usually fights with his sister asks Mrs Clause to bring a present for her, rather than him. In the John Lewis 2014 Christmas advert, the boy gives his penguin a mate so that he’s not lonely anymore. These adverts all have a deeper meaning, inspiring a connection with the advert and then with the brand. Though their stories may not be strongly related to what the brand sells, the power of an evocative advert shouldn’t be underestimated, and overall this years John Lewis advert seemed a little less enchanting than the others.