The arrival of John Lewis’ Christmas advert has generally come to be accepted as the true advent of Christmas over the last few years, as people across the land welcome in the festive season by crying their eyes out at the telly. This year’s offering is no exception, as John Lewis and Waitrose team up to create their first ever joint Christmas marketing campaign, bringing the focus to arguably the most important aspect of Christmas: food.
The little dragon, mortified by what he has done, runs home and shuts himself away from the world
The 2019 advert follows the story of Excitable Edgar and his best friend Ava (Ruby Dailly), set as always to a crooning acoustic version of an uplifting ballad (this year Bastille frontman Dan Smith’s dulcet tones set the scene with a rendition of REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling). Adorable CGI dragon Edgar’s fiery overenthusiasm causes mayhem for the peasant folk of his sleepy medieval town as he melts an unfortunate snowman, sends some ice-skating children for an unwelcome dip in the village pond, and torches the town’s Christmas decorations. “He didn’t mean it!” I ugly cry at the TV, as the little dragon, mortified by what he has done, runs home and shuts himself away from the world, not wanting to ruin anyone else’s Christmas.
Faithful friend Ava sits outside his front door and patiently waits for him to come out, but to no avail. Just when it seems like all hope is lost, a loaf of bread fresh from the oven gives Ava a clever idea, as she realises that there is a way that the townspeople will accept Edgar after all. She rushes to his house with a beautifully wrapped gift and brings him to the Christmas feast. In front of the terrified townsfolk he unveils his special treat: a delicious Christmas pudding, courtesy of Waitrose Ltd, (and presumably pre-soaked in Waitrose Brandy). With a little puff he lights the pudding, and everyone applauds and settles down for their glorious feast as the tagline “Show them how much you care” floats onscreen. As the camera fades to black, I am confronted by my own blotchy face and quivering chin reflected in the darkened TV screen. John Lewis, you’ve done it again.
This is a lovely little story about friendship and acceptance
Okay, Edgar has proved quite controversial this year, with John Lewis forced to apologise via Twitter to a two-year-old who believed Edgar had cruelly murdered Olaf, the lovable snowman from Frozen. But even this minor scandal couldn’t taint the fact that this is a lovely little story about friendship and acceptance, and that everyone has something special inside them, they just need a little help to learn how to harness it for good.
Ever since 2011’s emotional rollercoaster The Long Wait, an advert about a little boy who just couldn’t wait for Christmas so he could give his parents their present, the store has followed the iconic formula of a wholesome plot and great music, rounded up with a simple message of giving (although preferably something from John Lewis) and year on year it is a colossal success. Recent years have seen some slight deviation on the format with mixed results, and while Edgar doesn’t quite match up to Monty the Penguin, it’s nice to have a proper weepy advert where I can sit in my Christmas jumper and sob into my box of Celebrations, because that’s just what you do at Christmas.
Everyone has something special inside them, they just need a little help to learn how to harness it for good
So yes, the John Lewis Christmas advert is thinly veiled consumerist propaganda cooked up by some clever marketing execs using emotional manipulation to make us buy things, but it’s also quality, sappy, heart-warming stuff with a great message. Also, I had an Excitable Edgar cupcake and it was really good.