Nation split over ‘man on the moon’ TV advert

Half the world away: The ad was directed by Kim Gehrig, of the This Girl Can ads. © John Lewis

The argument is raging. The annual John Lewis Christmas TV advert has been released. Is it an honest attempt to make a better world? Or bigger profits? Or might it do both?

What’s happening

John Lewis have released their annual Christmas advertisement. It cost £1m to make and received six million views in the first 24 hours after it came out. John Lewis say that the advert helps create a connection with their customers, but is advertising really about no more than increasing sales?

Find out more

In the advert Lily is a young girl with a telescope gazing up at the moon; she spots an elderly man living by himself on its lonely surface. She tries to contact him, but fails. Finally, on Christmas Day, a parcel carried by balloons lands at his feet. With a new telescope of his own, he sheds a tear as he waves to Lily. ‘Show someone they’re loved this Christmas’, reads the parting message.

John Lewis’s head of marketing says the advert encourages you to think about 'someone who lives on your street that might not see anybody’. For John Lewis their Christmas advert is a big event every year, and they try to make each one better. But critics say the only reason they do it is to make money.

Some say…

John Lewis ads may be clever, but, make no mistake, they are done because they manipulate people’s emotions: the idea is to attract more customers so that they will buy more products in John Lewis shops. The campaign may be taking an indirect approach — but in the end its purpose is to make more money for the business, and we shouldn’t forget that.

Others think…

John Lewis is setting a good example: the advert makes an important point about caring for vulnerable people. If this means we support John Lewis by shopping there, there’s nothing wrong with that. To continue being profitable, businesses must be good for employees and the wider world, as well as for customers; otherwise they will not last long.

You Decide

  1. Do adverts affect you? Do they make you want things you don’t need?

Activities

  1. As a class, brainstorm ways you could help improve the lives of older people in your family or community.

Some People Say...

“Businesses only care about making money.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Telescope
An instrument with lenses you look through to make distant objects look nearer so you can see them better.
Marketing
Promoting the products or services a business wants to sell. Advertising is an example.
Manipulate
Control or influence to get what you want.
Vulnerable
Needing support, in danger.
Profitable
Receiving enough income from customers to pay for costs and a surplus (profit) for the owners to make the business worthwhile.

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