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John Lewis 2016 Chistmas Ad Reflects on Brexit

Author's avatar By Jonathan Gabay 10 Nov, 2016
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Key lessons for brands emerge from the most anticipated ad of the holiday season

On initial viewing the John Lewis’ £7m Xmas 2016 commercial  tells a quaint story of a girl whose trampoline becomes popular with the local wildlife community.

Set against a backing track of Randy Crawford’s ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’. The commercial features a Boxer dog in a typical Middle-England home. The dog enviously stares out of a living room window as it watches two wild foxes, a badger, a squirrel and a hedgehog liberally jumping on a trampoline built by the household’s father for his daughter. 

Come Christmas morning Buster (the Boxer dog) pushes aside a surprised Bridget (the daughter) to merrily jump on trampoline all for itself.

Given a tumultuous political year, John Lewis’s customer director Craig Inglis said:  

“You could say 2016 has certainly been quite a year.  We hope our advert will make people smile.

It really embraces a sense of fun and magic, reminding everyone what it feels to give the perfect gift at Christmas.”

How sweet.

Then I gave the commercial a second glance.  With a little imagination, it occurred to me that there was far more to this bouncy tale than a story of a middle-class family buying a children’s trampoline.

The commercial perfectly reflects some middle-class views of Brexit.

A father, builds what he hopes will be a safe society (trampoline) for his daughter.  The society is meant to encourage freedom of movement and creativity.  Uninvited people (wildlife ) suddenly emerge from the undergrowth to take advantage of the utopian society.  Meanwhile, a German Boxer dog watches everything from afar - with a mixture of disdain, uncertainty and envy. 

At the first opportunity, the dog thrusts the father’s own child aside as it takes over the entire society (trampoline) for itself. Leaving the child without her safe carefree future. The feral immigrant community are left to yearn again for their free movement, and the hard working British father figure is but a forgotten character in the entire plot.

Happy Ker-ching Christmas!

John Lewis plans to fully exploit the commercial selling an accompanying children’s picture book.  Every animal featured in the commercial will be available in soft toy form (priced at £15) with proceeds going to wildlife animal charities.


John Lewis is working with Snapchat on a custom filter that transforms the identity of users of all ages and backgrounds into German Boxer dogs. Customers visiting any of its 48 shops during December can use a Snapchat filter on pictures taken in-store.

Escape the realities of Christmas  – strap on an Oculus Rift

A VR experience is available in John Lewis’s flagship Oxford Street store. It will let users immerse themselves in the fictional back garden featured in the commercial. A 360 film will also be available via Google Cardboard.

John Lewis will be hoping the ‘German Boxer dog campaign will reverse a recent decline that resulted in a  75% fall in profits to £56.9m for the six months to 30 July.

Author's avatar

By Jonathan Gabay

Jonathan Gabay is one of Europe’s premier creative branding authorities. He is author of 15 books including university textbooks on copywriting. His latest title is Brand Psychology. Jonathan is a regular keynote speaker for major brands around the world. News organizations including: CNN, BBC, Sky and many more trust Jonathan to explain the stories behind the biggest brand news headlines.

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