An Ad

Nov. 16th, 2011 12:04 am
[personal profile] omfgstfu
opinions- who'd have them

I follow Charlie Brooker on Twitter, and this past weekend, he was ranting a little about a particular ad.

This ad: John Lewis Christmas 2011 ad

Apparently some people had found it very moving - a great man people, moving to tears - and he seemed disgusted by it.

So, okay, he hangs out with people who are about media and watch a lot of television and see the ads and and so on, so he saw more links to the ad and reactions to the thing than I had done.

But he seemed to have formed a different opinion of it to the one I did.

The ad:

This is a description of my perception of the ad, filtered through my eyes and experience.

A small male-presenting child - oh god, okay, a little boy - wakes up and opens a door? drawer? or a many-doored cabinet: it's an advent calendar, counting down to Christmas.
The boy is obviously impatient, by turns bored and agitated.
We see him looking at the clock , dressed up as a wizard, waving a magic wand at the clock - the clock stubbornly counts time at the usual rate, and the little boy is disappointed.
We see him sitting on the sofa, his leg jiggling, and his faather - sitting reading a newspaper next to him on the sofa - reaching out a hand and making his leg be still.
We see a smaller sibling look at him, not getting it.
We see the little boy eating up his vegetables, quickly, while his sibling dawdles over them.
We see the boy not fighting with his sibling at all. He is also not playing with his sibling, but I interpreted it as carefully avoiding getting into fights.

It seems the little boy is 'being good' - carefully not getting up to any mischief, and is impatient for Christmas to arrive.

Meanwhile, there is no talking, just music, all along: a sweet female voice is singing the Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want". 'For once in my life, let me gt what I want' and so on.

There. With the song, and the little boy being good and impatient, is the set-up:
Christmas is coming, where small children expect to get presents, and are told to be 'good' so they'll be given presents.

So far, so typical for every-Christmas-ad: it's about greed, and waiting impatiently for presents, and wanting to get the right (big! or expensive! ) present. Or presents.

Then we have the twist:

The little boy wakes up on Christmas morning. By his bed is a huge sack'Christmas Stocking' of tasteful perfectly-wrapped presents, and some extra presents outside the sack. He gets out of bed, totally ignores the pile of presents, and goes to his wardrobe. He takes something out of it.
He goes to his parents' bedroom, waking them up. They wake up and blearily look at him:
We see the boy with a big somewhat-clumsily wrapped packages, and a very happy expression on his face: He is utterly delighted to finally be giving his parents the presents he has got them!

Ad ends, text says something about John Lewis, the shop it is advertising.

And a tear did come to my eye there.

Now, Charlie Brooker, he said it's a perfect little kiddywink, and the people who cried, cried because such children do not exist.

But the tear came to *my* eye --
well, because the ad is emotional manipulation, made by experts.

But mostly because such shops don't exist. Shops are about stting you up for greed, telling you how much you need to buy things, how many things are lacking from your life, how much you need to GET.

And anxiety: Did you buy the right presents? Did you buy enough presents? Will you get the presents you want?

And this ad seemed to be about the pleasure of giving. Knowing you have a great present to give, the anticipation and sheer joy when you finally get to hand it over ...


And it also says, happily manipulative: of *course* you are loved enough! Of course you are good enough!
Because the presents always symbolise love. You love people enough to give them the best presents! You are loved enough to be given the best presents!
People love you enough to *want* to give you a present, even when they haven't seen you all year, and have NO IDEA what the best present will be.
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