The boy gives a snowman a heart shaped snow balloon

Give a Little Love – The John Lewis Christmas advert is here

Or #CheckyouaremessagingtherightJohnLewis

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid.

Well, it isn’t quite (and no-one knows quite what the f- kind of Christmas it will be this year) but the John Lewis advert has been released and that – in some households – would be seen as a cause for celebration.

The advert starts with the boy's ball stuck up a tree
Imagine how disappointed people would have been if the must-have toy from this year’s John Lewis ad was a yellow and black football (Picture is a screenshot from John Lewis & Partners Give a Little Love Christmas advert)
John Lewis advert stop motion
The story of the advertisement is told in several different forms including stop motion animation and humans acting (Picture is a screenshot from John Lewis & Partners Give a Little Love Christmas advert)
The boy gives a snowman a heart shaped snow balloon
There’s no chance of anyone not realising the advert is about giving love because the heart motif is everywhere (Picture is a screenshot from John Lewis & Partners Give a Little Love Christmas advert)

Maybe it’s my old age setting in but I think from Moz the Monster onwards I’ve been a lot less cynical about the annual John Lewis offering (although the one featuring Elton John was an abomination).

It always comes with a ‘must-have’ toy where – just like a task on The Apprentice where the advert production team doesn’t share any information about the look of the product with the toy design team – it looks very different from the creature on the advert.

The toy is so must-have that last year I made a mental note to buy some so I could sell them on Ebay once they had sold out in shops.

Obviously a mental note isn’t the same as a real note because I forgot until they had sold out, then ended up helping some friends procure one by buying from the aforementioned auction site.

This year though there is no must have toy. Instead there’s just the positive message of giving love and encouraging people to donate to the partner charities FareShare and Home-Start.

Am I getting less cynical or have the John Lewis Christmas adverts been getting better in recent years (apart from the Elton John one)?
Social distancing on the John Lewis Give a Little Love Christmas advert
In the John Lewis vision of a Covid-19 Christmas there is a socially distanced cracker (Picture is a screenshot from John Lewis & Partners Give a Little Love Christmas advert)
Loving the Christmas cracker joke on the John Lewis Give a Little Love Christmas advert
And in this strange Covid-19 world the Christmas cracker jokes are funny – Look how he’s enjoying the joke so much he’s forgotten to take his paper hat off (Picture is a screenshot from John Lewis & Partners Give a Little Love Christmas advert)
John Lewis Give a Little Love Christmas advert
But in this world where there is a socially distanced cracker, there is no social distancing on the bus (if this is indeed supposed to be a bus) and no-one is wearing a mask (Picture is a screenshot from John Lewis & Partners Give a Little Love Christmas advert)

After seeing it for the first time I thought it was so nice that a big company realised we are all just trying to help others while being worried for our futures. Well, that was until I looked at the John Lewis & Partners website.

You can’t buy a toy but other tat is available. You can ‘shop the Give a Little Love gifts’ including tote bags, a candle, a mug, t-shirts, a heart-shaped umbrella, and – for children – some pyjamas.

All profits go to charity so that’s better than nothing, I suppose.

I wonder if one of the heart-shaped umbrellas will be winging its way to John Lewis in Blacksburg, Virginia, some day soon, and a mug for when he fancies a cup of British tea.

For those of you who aren’t aware, I truly know Christmas is coming when John Lewis the person receives thousands (maybe even millions) of tweets from people who just assume @JohnLewis will be the Twitter account for a British department store.

John Lewis always gets inundated with tweets when it’s Christmas advert time
It seems he quite likes this year’s effort

His patient and often very amusing responses to people where he explains he too is looking forward (kind of) to the advert being on the television but how he cannot help with returning some candlesticks to the Watford store is a joy to behold (the Watford store part is a bit of poetic licence but read down a bit and you will find out why).

With everything else going on in the world, spending a few moments reading through his Twitter replies is definitely the best way to start the holiday season (and we’re not even at Thanksgiving yet!).

But what John Lewis the person may not know is that no-one can help people to return candlesticks to the Watford store because the pandemic has led to its permanent closure. There was a petition – and apparently John Lewis did not pay any rent for the shop – but nothing could be done to change the minds of the bean counters.

A psychiatrist (or maybe it should be psychologist) would say it’s my childhood memories of that store have shaped the way I feel about it now, and its Christmas advertising campaigns.

I remember having to spend hours in the carpet department and even more hours in the lino flooring section and then even more hours looking at furniture. I remember the cakes being good at The Place to Eat but being puzzled by the name because there are other places to eat. I remember when it was called Trewins and didn’t have all the John Lewis branding everywhere.

There's a heart on the Christmas tree in the John Lewis Give a Little Love Christmas advert
There’s a heart on the Christmas tree but I didn’t spot it for sale in the John Lewis & Partners online shop. I have a Moz the Monster bauble so a heart decoration would have made a nice addition to my collection (Picture is a screenshot from John Lewis & Partners Give a Little Love Christmas advert)
John Lewis Give a Little Love Christmas advert 8
I can understand why national papers are saying these scenes were filmed in Orpington but am disappointed the News Shopper is saying the same. Friar Road (where this part was filmed) is in Poverest (Picture is a screenshot from John Lewis & Partners Give a Little Love Christmas advert)

Most recently I remember going in to the shop in Watford specifically to buy a black winter coat.

It was a non-busy weekday in November and I had £100 cash in my pocket (so I believe it was in my call centre days when I felt a bit more flush) but the shop assistant did the thing John Lewis staff like to do of not asking if I needed any help nor seeming to acknowledge me at all.

I ended up buying the coat but instead of being lauded by the salesperson (who was being paid to tell people they look good) I had to get reassurance from my mum and her friend while I tried the coat on in a car park.

Imagine the scenes if John Lewis made my shopping experience into next year’s Christmas ad. It would be better than the man in the moon, but not as good as the dog on the trampoline.

Fingers crossed this doesn’t happen because after the year we’ve had I hope 2021 is much brighter and isn’t summed up by a dissatisfied man trying on a black coat in a car park (in real life it was a small car park next to a Citzens Advice office but artistic licence would change the location to a dank multi-storey).

Stay safe for another week!

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