John Lewis Christmas Advert – The season of goodwill?

We all have Chrismas traditions; the film you have to watch EVERY year even through you know the lines off by heart (Muppet Christmas Carol), the food you can’t do without or Christmas just won’t be the same and I know of a lot of people who don’t believe it’s Christmas until they’ve seen the Coke christmas advert…

John Lewis adverts have become a bit of a British advertising staple these last few years. The woman shown growing through the years to a Billy Joel track – a huge hit, the rather obscure Guns & Roses cover from last year -  they’ve got people talking and they’ve obviously tried to capture the nations hearts again with this recent Christmas themed offering

Another hit, yes? I love this video right up until the end – the cover version is great, there’s some lovely imagery and the first time I watched it I was hooked.  But what’s with the dog in the snow!?

The little boy wanders out, we’re waiting with baited breath… is the poor freezing hound going to come inside to be by the fire and with his family? Like a lump of coal in your stocking, we’re left disappointed and poor ‘Rannoch’ gets a stocking and some fairy lights. The clincher is the text over the end – ‘For those who care about showing they care….’

If there weren’t any fairy lights and a twee little stocking it would remind me very much of the dog at the end of  this advert.

I know, I know. It’s an advert, it isn’t real and the dog is obviously looks very well looked after and this is all no more real than the RSPCA ad above or Father Christmas (dammnit John lewis, you mean Father Christmas isn’t real, you mean I should blame my parents for my lack of a Mr. Frosty!?) but why show something like that? Why not have him by the fire inside and with his family? Dogs are social creatures who like to be with people. Having one outside in conditions like that is considered abuse and no good dog shelter will re-home to people who intend to keep the dog outside.  I accept that some dogs (mostly working) do live outside but these are in proper kennels with heat lamps and warm bedding and if the temperature drops dramatically many are brought inside.

There are those who argue that most people know that you shouldn’t keep a dog outside or it wouldn’t make them think it was OK and that we’re all being ‘stupid’ and soppy mutt lovers. You’d be surprised what people think is acceptable and how easily influenced people are by advertising or what they see on screen. Costa came under fire this year from the Rainforest Alliance for their advert featuring monkeys as they feared that people would want them as pets and how many owls/fish/rats have been dumped after the hype of the latest Harry Potter/Pixar film has died down?

Come on John Lewis, get with the times! The amount of people who have been upset by this is huge. There’s a Facebook group set up and a petition to get the advert changed so the least I would expect from them is an apology or an offer of a donation to a rescue charity.

The response from John Lewis (which seems to be a standard reply as other people have had the exact same e-mail back) when the group founder e-mailed them ? -

The inclusion of a dog at the end of our Christmas advert is there to inject a feeling of the importance of pets in a family and show how much they are an integral part of Christmas festivities. The kennel has been lovingly decorated with fairy lights and the boy hanging up the special ‘doggy’ stocking, is sharing a private Christmas moment with his dog. Many dogs have outside kennels, and that does not mean, nor do we intend to imply, that they don’t spend most of their time in the house. Rannoch is a very well cared for dog and his owner, who is also his breeder, is more than happy with the way her pet has been portrayed on screen.

Yours sincerely,

John Lewis.com

It might seem silly to talk about something as small as an advert but as a rescue kennel volunteer, when you see some of the horrific things that happen to dogs you don’t want to see it reflected in a national advertising campaign. If pets are so important, why are they shown to be kept outside in snowy, blustery conditions?What was it Gandhi said – “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated”.

This blog – ‘For those who care about showing they care’

EDIT – It appears that John Lewis have had a rethink and decided to cut the last section of the advert. Kudos to them for listening, I don’t agree that it was a ‘small number’ (1,250 people in a group over two days…) but I respect them for backing down on this issue and cutting it. Maybe inserting a scene with the dog happy by a fire instead? It would make the advert perfect for me as otherwise it puts me right in the Christmas mood!

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