The Christmas ad for Britain’s John Lewis department store chain is always big news and pundits love to find metaphors for current events. This year is no different. The Guardian reports:
In theory, the intention was admirable. But this year has been such a domino stack of heartbreaking disappointment that John Lewis wouldn’t have had to do much to make everyone cry. An advert where a weekend dad saves up to buy a toy for his son, soundtracked by a sad cover of Heroes by David Bowie. An advert where an old man sits on the white cliffs of Dover watching Europe fade into the distance, until he cheers up when a cartoon Belgian monkey gives him a gift voucher. Literally just a static card reading “2016”. Any of these would have been a shot straight to the tear ducts.
But no. This year John Lewis tried to be happy. It tried to show us something as innocent and gleeful as an animal on a trampoline, in a bid to remind us that there’s still some good left in the world. Our lives are flat and grey and trodden on, but so long as there’s a dog bouncing next to a weirdly anachronistic telephone box, we’ll still be fine.
And what did it make? A sledgehammer allegory for Donald Trump. A woman who gets shoved aside by an unthinking, self-interested animal even though she’s much more suited to the task at hand. Watch the advert while listening to Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. I dare you. It’s heartbreaking. John Lewis, you’ve done the impossible. You’ve made 2016 worse.
The 2013 ad with Lily Allen covering Keane remains my favorite.