In recent years, the John Lewis Christmas Advert has become one of the most eagerly anticipated presents of the holiday season; people huddled round their TV’s (or in most cases, their laptops), tissues at the ready, ready to weep as a breathy singer covers an emotional song whilst an animal/cute child frolics onscreen. With the 2016 advert set to grace our screens this week, people have been speculating that the late David Bowie, who passed away in January this year, will be honoured in the song choice.
Bowie is seemingly the perfect choice; not only would the advert pay homage to the national treasure, musician and chameleon, but many of his songs would be fitting for an emotional adaption; Heroes, Space Oddity and Life on Mars all spring to mind. And whilst many begrudging and imperious voices may shout – “I knew David Bowie before you were born!” “Pipe down, Halloween ended less than a week ago!” “John Lewis, leave Ziggy Stardust alone!” “Oasis allowed their song be covered – what SELL OUTS!” “Down with capitalism!” – we all have a secret little space in our hearts for the John Lewis adverts. They make us happy. They tell us Christmas is coming and what else do we have to look forward to, after a fairly dismal and Brexit-inflected year?
Although John Lewis have certainly cashed in through their tearjerker format, with 2ft toys of Monty the Penguin, star of the 2014 advert, selling out at £95 a pop, last year’s advert in particular played not only on the heartstrings, but focused on a real issue – elderly people being alone on Christmas Day.
The 2015 advert, set to Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away’ which was covered by Aurora, depicted an elderly man sat on the moon, devoid of companionship. A little girl spots him through her telescope and sends him one also as a present on Christmas Day; when he receives this and sees his new friend waving to him, the advert ends with a single tear of happiness rolling down his cheek. It certainly sobers us from the mulled-wine and mince-pie mindset, realising that – according to Age UK – 450,000 over 65’s face the prospect of Christmas alone.
There has been much speculation that the 2016 advert is set to drop in the next few days – previous adverts have aired in the first week of November, usually preempted a few days before by a short teaser during an episode of The X-Factor. The question is what treats will John Lewis be bestowing upon us this year?
The organisation ‘Community Christmas’ encourages the companionship of elderly people on Christmas Day. Sign up to be a volunteer here – http://communitychristmas.org.uk/
Words by Steph Green