Elton John Lewis

Elton John Lewis

Elton John Lewis

Every year, around September time, an excitement bubbles or baubles in one of our client’s offices.

Every year they tell us how much they would like a TV ad like the  John Lewis one. They are not alone in this dream as fellow agency workers around the UK will tell you. And it is a dream, because inevitably their budget won’t stretch. In fact it would snap into tiny pieces. And we have to be careful about their expectations.

Thanks to John Lewis and Partners, we’ve already had to endure Brian May this year in the most convoluted, awkward, and possibly index finger waving smug-fest of an ad announcing the (self) importance of John Lewis and Partners. The ad used teachers putting on a school play. In life outside of John Lewis and Partners, the real teachers ended up worrying about the expected scale of the next school production amongst their pupils. But hey, who cares about them? Or the kids whose expectations are now bigger than before. We don’t, we’re John Lewis and we’ve got something bigger and better to belittle you humble normals with. We’ve gone one bigger and better – we’ve now got Brian Ego.

OK sorry, it’s not Brian Ego, it’s Elton Bloody John. Brian Ego is driving the truck and it’s MASSIVE…..it’s the biggest truck you’ve ever seen. It’s bigger than the Coca Cola truck. And fuck Santa’s sleigh, he has no chance around us motherfuckers.


Slade couldn’t do the Christmas ad for them this year because they are associated with the ever lasting Christmas earworm “So Here It Is Merry Christmas”. But thanks to Brian Ego, there won’t be many Merry Christmases for many kids this year. Because not many kids are going to come downstairs to find a massive bloody piano, or anything else as big in their lounges. Who the hell buys their child an £895 piano for Christmas?? And what the hell are you doing making this ad with a child coming downstairs and seeing this enormous gift, beautifully wrapped on Christmas morning? What expectation are you creating? You have let Brian Ego take over. He’s driving his massive truck past  the normal kids right now. He’s waving and laughing at them with their tiny tiny presents.

My seven year old daughter Bea wants Santa to bring her a surprise this year. I thought this was sweet, if slightly challenging. But now, if she sees that ad, and that child unwrapping that enormous gift from Elton John Lewis, what do you think it will have done to her expectations? How big will she now expect her gift to be?

No child will make any reference to the story that Elton John Lewis have  created ‘for the adults’. No child will care that the message is about the importance of a gift being bigger than the sum of its parts. All the child will see is the size of the present and the wonderment depicted in that child’s eyes.

How many parents will now be made to feel that they simply cannot deliver this Christmas? How many parents will feel worried that Santa wont be able to deliver – if that dream is still allowed to exist .

Brian Ego will have had great success in making much of your target audience feel small and unworthy Elton John Lewis. Because Brian Ego can deliver. And sadly Mr and Mrs average cannot.

A paragraph from The Elton John Lewis and Partners 5 year retail report 2017 says “One thing that hasn’t changed in this evermore complex 21st century retail marketplace is that John Lewis is still relied on by millions of customers across the country for expert, trusted, and guaranteed quality, which is never knowingly undersold.”

Never knowingly undersold you say? Is that Brian Ego talking again? He hasn’t bloody undersold this year has he. And as for expert and trusted… I think you have just crashed the sleigh.

Back to what is now to come, I have massive respect for the creativity and quality of production of this multi million pound ad, and I have absolutely no doubt that Brian’s ad will be played out at all the most important times in the lead up to our festive family period. But those times will be the moments when we are sitting with our children talking about what Santa might be bringing for them.

And it will now go something like this:

“Daddy, do you think Santa will come this year, it’s just that I’ve been wondering how he will get the piano down the chimney?”

“Don’t worry kids, I’ve got my mate Brian Ego delivering it through the front door on Christmas Eve. Then your mother’s going to wrap it when she’s finished off the smoked salmon and six bottles of prosecco that I bought for us both to enjoy on Christmas Day”

“Grand” they’ll say.

“Unlikely” I’ll say.

“Truth is, hadn’t planned on spending £895.00 on you this year, you’re seven years old. Would you rather live with Brian?”

In conclusion, I think that Elton John Lewis has lost the plot. Brian Ego has taken over and is clouding their judgement. They have simply got too big for their stockings this Christmas. And indeed this year. Creatively we are seeing some amazing work, but I think they all need an internal elf check in the boardroom in January.

I felt sorry for the Sainsbury’s ad agency and marketing team earlier this year. They no doubt produced a little more than sprout gas when they saw the Brian May ad prior to their own big Christmas release. But in hindsight I think that Brian Ego has done them a favour – their ad shows reality and compassion and they certainly have not forgotten who their target audience is. Adding Elton John Lewis to that mix now simply adds insult to their injury. And as for Lidl’s response to the ad on twitter, that really is one Ego bruiser.


  • November 18, 2018

    Vicks Ward

    Hear, hear … couldn’t agree more. I can’t help thinking “what was the brief?” It can’t have been “high street retailers are in the shit, lets show customers the best place they can get their entire Christmas wrapped up is at JL and by association drive traffic in-stores.” Oh no, I think the brief was “how do we shout the loudest?” They didn’t even sell pianos until recently, the timing was always going to piss people off with “rocket man” and completely detract from “the John Lewis offering”. Personally I hate what they’ve done. This is a retailer essentially struggling on the high street but yes what better time to blow £5m?/£7m? on a multi millionaire? They seem to have forgotten their customer altogether!

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