John Lewis Christmas advert 2015 review: Why the Man on the Moon leaves me feeling out in the cold

 
Catherine Neilan
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Sure, he's got a telescope, but where's the food? Or the oxygen mask?

John Lewis knows a thing or two about building anticipation around its Christmas ad campaign.

Over the past four years (since 2011's The Long Wait) the department store has ensured it dominates the festive season by shrouding its big-budget ad in secrecy – but with just enough hints leaked to get us consumers frothing at the mouths. Pavlov would be proud.

At 8am today, the wait will finally be over, but you've probably already picked up on some of the #OntheMoon teases that John Lewis has been pushing out since last weekend. You might have even put two and two together.

Just in case you haven't, here's the outline of what to expect.

A little old man sits alone on the Moon, completely isolated from everyone including a little girl (called Lily, of course: her mum and dad shop at John Lewis). Lily spends all her time trying to get a message to the Man on the Moon. After much faffing around with paper aeroplanes (Lily clearly isn't paying attention in school) she manages to get a present to him, carried all the way from Earth with balloons.

Read more: Will sentimentality ad up for John Lewis?

The Man on the Moon sheds a tear as he opens his telescope and finally gets to see what's going on down on our blue planet.

All the things we have come to expect from a John Lewis Christmas ad are there. Tearjerker? Check. Mournful cover of a big hit pop song? Check. Big budget? Check. Cuddly plush toys in store? Um, nope. But there will be mugs...

So is this another vintage year? Not for me.

Perhaps it's because the expectations have just become too high – the curse of the second album, in Christmas advert form – or perhaps it's because it runs the risk of coming across as a little “preachy”.

The fact John Lewis is planning educational elements around the campaign, including a tie-up with Age UK, rather hammers this home. John Lewis spokespeople tell me a million Brits go a month without speaking to another person. It's a frightening statistic. Almost too frightening to then switch to full materialism mode – which is surely the aim of any retailer's advert (not least one that costs £7m).

But the main reason I struggle to get completely on board with the Man on the Moon is that even at its denouement the video remains just a little bit miserable.

Sure, the man now has his telescope to see his young friend back on Earth, but Lily forgot to include an iPhone so he can speak to her. Or any food. Or an oxygen mask. Lily really needs to start paying attention in school.

When the man sheds a tear of what is presumably meant to be joy, all I felt was sadness that he remained trapped on the Moon.

Next Christmas, Lily, it would be good if you could send him something useful. Maybe build a rocket with enough seats to bring him home. Whatever you do, don't forget to fill up the tank before you go.

Not seen it yet? Watch the video below and decide for yourself:

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