Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Meaning Behind Christmas Adverts

by Rebecca Emerton

I’m sure most of you have seen the John Lewis adverts, not only this year’s emotional journey of the man on the moon (which, I hasten to add, I cried about for a solid three minutes in the middle of the Sixth Form Centre) but every other year filling us with that confusing mixture of ‘Aww’ and ‘I want to just sob now for the rest of the day and tell my Mum that I love her’. But this is precisely the point of these adverts that signify the beginning of Christmas every year. I have decided that I slightly love and hate them at the same time.

John Lewis steer away from the conventional, overly Christmassy adverts like the boy running after the Coca-Cola truck or the extremely annoying yet memorable voice from the woman in the M&S adverts: because, of course, who wouldn't want a normal Christmas pudding when you can have ‘an M&S Christmas pudding’? As we all understand already, Christmas is commonly advertised as the ‘season to be jolly’ and to spend precious time with your family – yet John Lewis appear to take this one step further. Very rarely are words spoken in any of these adverts, yet a magical moral is portrayed without so much as a notion to those cheesy voiceovers in most products being displayed on TV. 

So why is it that John Lewis manage to stir the emotions of so many people?

Every year, they are able to portray not only the idea of family and the affection between them, but each character in the short story portrayed puts in that extra effort to please someone else in a purely innocent and selfless way. For example: the boy creating a present for his parents, the two romantic snowmen, the hare and the bear spending time together, or the boy’s little penguin friends, and most recently the little girl sending a telescope to a man on the moon with no other people on there with him. Perhaps it sparks a sense of guilt in each viewer and a prayer is sent to those who own little, or are less fortunate than others. I know my concerns for homeless people especially increase around this time of year in the cold and lonely conditions that contrast so heavily with what I believe Christmas to be all about.

Enhanced by the theme songs, the adverts succeed in portraying the message of thinking of others without use of a heartfelt plea being played romantically over the top, and every time it leaves the viewer covered in goose bumps. It is also made unique by the fact that besides the name ‘JOHN LEWIS’ at the end of the advert, not once does it try to advertise any of its products, which immediately makes it stand out from the rest of the adverts so carelessly scattered on the TV. It presents a sense of dignity and class in its ability to convey the message so successfully without need for reaching out desperately to every consumer to buy their newest Christmas themed this or that.

True, their technique causes you to remember the brand successfully (and the waiting for the John Lewis Christmas advert has become an annual count down in my household and many others), but they are remembered for all the correct reasons, and I hope that it successfully encourages people to think a little more about the important things in life this Christmas.

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