An Ad Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas

Well, I’m already doing better than I ever thought I was going to do when I started to write this blog. Yesterday I had over 100 page views! I would like to think that was one hundred separate people reading the nonsense I wrote, but I imagine seventy percent of those visits were me, hitting refresh after editing words, punctuation, and of course, spelling. Today is a new day, and that means a new post. You can’t even begin to comprehend how much I wanted to talk about video games, food I ate, or the fact I’ve just watched Toy Story 3 on blu-ray for the first time (Thanks brother. It was incredible), but instead I’m going to stick it out, and dip my toes back into the world of advertising. After all, that was my reason for starting this blogathon. First, however, I’m going to go back to Toy Story, and by that, I mean Pixar.

Pixar have an uncanny ability to make me do something no sane man should be admitting on the internet; well up. That’s right. I got the lump-in-the-throat, butterfilies-in-stomach feeling at least twice during Toy Story 3, but that’s nothing compared to what happened at the end of Wall-E where I actually let a single tear drop. Don’t even get me started on Up. Please, never ever show me the first ten minutes without having a tissue to hand, and arms open ready for a hug. If you’ve seen those films then I’m sure you’ll understand, and if you haven’t, you really should go and watch them before going all alpha-male and declaring me a wet girl’s blouse. The writers and animators of Pixar are the best in their field. I have realised that I can care more about non-existent characters, far more than I ever have done about ‘real’ characters in live action films. Sure, I cried at Titanic, but I was 11, and I had a cold. It meant nothing. Honest. This ability to really make an audience care is what makes them their money. The more people care, the more people will tell their friends, and as we all know, word of mouth is a golden.

Advertisers have always known that emotions are big business, and thanks to that, we are bombarded with ads telling us our loved ones will die if we don’t check our smoke detectors, buy a certain brand of cleaning product, change our baby’s nappies, and look both ways before we cross the road. Guilt tripping us into buying a product isn’t really the best way to go about it (take note of that Domestos), but eliciting an emotional response is one way of making us remember a product. I’ve read dozens of ‘top ten ads of 2010′, and this ad was criminally overlooked. This is John Lewis’ Christmas ad for 2010. Yes, that’s right. It’s not the one where the girl grew up and had kids and stuff, because that one wasn’t as amazing as all the housewives thought it was. This is Christmas, bundled up into a one minute slice of happiness.

Quick, someone pass me a Kleenex before I fly my broom into a building. Phew. Anyway, where was I? Ah, emotional responses. Christmas has always been important to me. It’s my favourite holiday of the year, and it’s the time when you’ll find me the most excited. As I’ve grown up, I don’t yearn to wake up at 6am and see me what Power Ranger toy, or Mega Drive game Father Christmas has brought me. Christmas has become a time for me to be with my family. The people I consider to be most important. What’s more, is I get to give them something I’ve put a lot of thought into, or at least know they’ll cherish until the 27th December when they can return it for an exchange or store credit. That’s what this advert reminds me of. It takes me back to the week before Christmas, and having everyone’s presents bought, wrapped, and waiting to be ripped open. I love seeing the look on my family and friends faces when they open their presents, and know I’ve given them more than a fleeting second of my time.

This year I bought my Dad a copy of Disraeli Gears by Cream on vinyl. His copy was stolen about 30 years ago, and he mentioned that in a strange rambling anecdote that he has so many of. I noted that, and bought the man a new copy. He practically jumped out of his chair with excitement when he unwrapped it. That’s what this ad makes me remember. It’s the emotions of pleasure at giving the right gift that it manages to bring to the surface, and for that reason, it’s absolutely brilliant. The kid giving a family member a watering can even thought it’s pissing it down. The ‘hard as nails’ mechanic wrapping a polka dot teapot. The small child wrapping and stuffing a stocking for his best friend and loyal pet. They’re all reminders of moments we should have saved in our memory bank. We should all be able to relate to that sense of joy and happiness, and without living up to my reputation of being an absolute wet human being, of love. I don’t think I can watch the ad without letting out a ‘HHhhhgggnnnn’ at the small child hanging a stocking on the dog’s kennel (that’s man for ‘awwww’ if you need to look it up). It’s, well… lovely.

I know for some people, they never have the opportunity to experience such happy Christmases as I did, and for that, I am eternally sorry if I’ve rubbed it in your faces. I was a lucky child, and am still lucky to this day. If I could, I’d have every single person to be as happy as I am at Christmas. This advertisement deserves a round of applause. It’s showcasing one of my favourite things about Christmas; letting the people you love, know just how much you care about them. Maybe the brand awareness of John Lewis hasn’t improved one iota. Maybe the sales at stores nationwide have slumped. Maybe the executives think it was a waste of money. But for me, it certainly reminded me about how lucky I am, and will continue to do so. Fuck the coca-cola adverts, because when I see this one, it’ll always be Christmas in my head.

Now someone get me a towel, I need to wring out my t-shirt, and mop up my keyboard.

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