It’s the toughest gig in advertising, making the Christmas TV ad for John Lewis (and Waitrose combined these days). The song has to be right (and the performance engaging), the story appealing, emotionally engaging but the right side of schmaltzy, well cast, capable of repeat viewing and building in a product message that doesn’t land a horrible anti-climax.
So this year Dougal Wilson (back behind the lens), of Blink, brings us Adam and Eve’s potential turkey.
But no, it’s a golden goose.
Actually it’s a cuddly young dragon called Edgar and his unlikely best friend little red-headed Ava.
Both being orphans (no parents grace our screens and Edgar lives alone in a little dragon house) the two wander around a medieval village wreaking havoc (this is historically acceptable) with no-one to admonish their behaviour. But this being JLP land the residents who are having their dreams wrecked by a fire-breathing monster only look on mildly disdainfully, a series of heavenward looks simply say, ‘Oh Jeez, Ava and that pesky mite Edgar are at it AGAIN’.
Saint George is not brought in to their rescue and it’s Edgar who takes it upon himself to send himself to Coventry, whilst Ava camps outside like a human Greyfriar’s Bobby.
After a while Ava thinks, ‘Sod this’ and gives up her vigil returning, instead, to normal life. Later, whilst baking in her orphanage, she has a Damascan moment (she hasn’t completely given up on Edgar) when she suddenly realises that Edgar can be put to good use (see, she’s on it, she really IS A GOOD FRIEND) by purchasing a Christmas pudding from Waitrose for Edgar’s Christmas (Waitrose est. 1904, Acton, West London, so historically inaccurate).
Of course Edgar’s gift, which is really a gift for ALL of the residents of the medieval village, finally puts his fire-breathing to good effect by setting alight the brandy that the pudding is doused in. The communal village dinner will be finished to perfection with 5 grammes per head of alcohol-sated dessert.
It’s all pretty ridiculous, but IT’S CHRISTMAS at JLP and it doesn’t actually matter.
What we have is a loveable fantasy enacted well by young Ava, to REO Speedwagon’s biggest hit, Can’t Fight This Feeling, performed by Bastille.
I cried. So it worked.