Wednesday, 11 November 2015

John Lewis and Age UK: Moonlight Becomes Them

Everyone's going on about the John Lewis advert for Christmas. An old man who somehow been exiled to the moon is rescued from Yuletide loneliness with the help of a girl, a telescope and a balloon. It's so sad! It's so moving! It has... very little to do with John Lewis, if we're going to be honest. Apart from the end caption, there's no store branding whatsoever. But that's the point. Because this season, John Lewis are using their advertising clout to raise awareness for a charity that fills a desperate need at this time of year.

Age UK work for some of the most under-appreciated people in the country–the elderly, and particularly those who live alone. Christmas, with its focus on family and togetherness, can be really tough for older people without a support network. It can sometimes feel as if you're simply not there. As if you're living on the moon.

Hence the ad, directed by up-and-comer Kim Gehrig (who also headed up the This Girl Can campaign for Sport England). John Lewis is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for Age UK using profits from three specially branded products–a mug, gift tag and card. But awareness is just as important. The store is also urging staff and customers to volunteer with their local branch of Age UK, to help elderly people who might otherwise find themselves alone over the holiday period. Even the ad's tagline, “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas”, deliberately echoes Age UK's "No-one should have no-one at Christmas".

Rachel Swift, head of marketing at John Lewis, summed up the thinking behind the campaign:

“The charity really resounds with people at this time of year, and the ad ... lends itself to thinking about someone who lives on your street that might not see anybody”.
Over the past few years the John Lewis advert has become one of the signs that Christmas is on the way. It's heartening to see the brand using the enviable promotional clout at its command to both help out a charity and highlight in a subtle way one of the more unpalatable truths about The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Social media has been full of people posting about how the ad made them cry. Let's hope they all realise that there's a bit more of a message to this year's spot, and that the little old man in the moon has people just like him all across the country this Christmas.

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