The John Lewis Ad and the Cynicism of Society at Christmas


And so the yuletide is fully upon us. Our children’s schools insist on fleecing us (Christmas jumper day necessitates new clothing plus cold cash for the privilege of wearing it into school), and the shops are advertising in force. Decorations are festooned across the land, and office Christmas parties, complete with enforced jollity and misuse of the photocopier, have been underway since late November.


Our television screens are filled with festive cheer and happy families, and the annual competition for Best TV Ad has taken place. I’m not really sure which won this year, but I do know that I enjoyed the John Lewis advert – even if some people found it disturbing. To be honest, I think that if an advert demonstrates that the elderly and the lonely need special thought at this time of year (if not all year round), then it’s worth its weight in marketing.


I saw on Facebook various comments comparing the elderly man to a peeping Tom, but that says more about the people watching than the people making the advert.


The implications are myriad (the stereotype of an abuser for example; male, old) and fear of the elderly. Children need to be brought up to care for and about the elderly, not to ostracise and fear – a fear that is bred, perhaps, out of seeing where our own future lies.


It’s not as if the gentleman was watching her undress, and its indicative of the times in which we live that the first thought that comes to the mind of some people is ‘pervert’. If anything, it was the child spying on the old guy – before trying to find a way to enable him to see that he was not alone.


At a time of year when we are flooded with scenes of happiness and there is an expectation to enjoy yourself, you can be made to feel even more lonely. If you have lost someone, or something, this year, then it can feel as though Christmas is rubbing that in your face.


If you are reading this at the moment, and grieving for a loss of any kind, then I hope that you can take solace in the knowledge that you are not alone. None of our lives are perfect – only those depicted as such on the TV – and even this depends upon our definition of ‘perfect’. Often, our dysfunctional, untraditional, blended families, are, in fact, our very idea of ‘perfect’.


I wish you a peaceful Christmas.



First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 22nd December 2015

Image courtesy of


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