Well, they’ve done it again. John Lewis nailed Christmas.

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.

 

Charlie Robertson. An inspiration.

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(I wrote this a while ago.  The week of Charlie’s death in fact, but I’ve just realised it lay in my drafts folder.  I never published it here, although I did elsewhere.  So, for completeness sake, I share it here now.  Apologies if you have stumbled upon it elsewhere.)

I’ve been plucking up courage for several days now trying to put metaphorical pen to paper about the life of my old chum Charlie Robertson.

I’m not a lifer (as a friend/colleague) so perhaps others are better placed to wax lyrical about him, but he had a profound effect on my life at a particularly impressionable time.

I was a ‘suit’ at The Leith Agency when Charlie appeared.  A returning migrant from London, not just London – BB bloody H – where he’d inspired Vorsprung Durch Technik.

This wasn’t a planner, this was a rock star.  Cue Mick Hucknell gags (OK, that’s it out of the way.  No more. Ed.)

We weren’t worthy, except, actually, we were.

Because Charlie wasn’t the London wanker we feared.

Charlie was just Charlie.

A gifted 5-a-side footballer, cut from the same jib as Jimmy ‘Jinxy’ Johnstone (albeit ‘Jinxy’ was from the wrong side of Charlie’s tracks).

Charlie was a storyteller, a provocateur, a walking brainstorm.  My job was to get the best out of him and we seemed to work really well.  The trick with Charlie was to spot the ball.

The Golden Ball.

Because Charlie would fire out ideas by the shedload, you just had to be in the room at the right time to say “STOP, that’s it Charlie.” And I felt I had a knack for that.

Our finest hour was pitching for Irn Bru, an account The Leith Agency holds to this day.  It must have netted them millions by now. Charlie was the planner, I was the suit, Gerry was the creative director.  It was awesome.

We came second to BB bloody H.  John Hegarty dazzled the Irn Bruers with his charm and sophistication and then went on to produce a pure minger of a commercial, but then Coke knocked on their door.  Irn Bru got booted from BB bloody H and they came back to Leith.  We were ‘a close second’ they had said and it was true.

History began.

I left soon after but that wasn’t the end of my relationship with Charlie.  He worked, through Red Spider, with 1576 from time to time.  We met for beer and red wine from time to time.

Charlie was the real deal.  A proper advertising genius.  A colossal brain and a charm to go with it.

Client, no people, loved Charlie.  Me one of them.

We will miss his elegant charm and his clever wit.  But most of all we will miss his humanity.

Bye Charlie.  It was great.

Why Brexit is bonkers.

(From an article Jan Fleischauer in Der Speigel)

The United Kingdom is currently demonstrating how a country can make a fool of itself before the eyes of the entire world. What was once the most powerful empire on earth is now a country that can’t even find its way to the door without tripping over its own feet.

 
Take this perfect example…
 
Journalist: “If we leave the EU without a deal, doesn’t there have to be a hard border in Ireland?”
 
May: “We’ve been very clear that we do not want to see a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”
 
Journalist: “But if we leave without a deal, that does mean a hard border, doesn’t it?”
 
May: “We are working to make sure that we leave with a good deal.”
 
Journalist: “But if we leave without a deal, there will be a border in Ireland, won’t there?”
 
May: “If we leave with no deal, we as the UK government are still committed to doing everything we can to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”
 
Journalist: “But you’ll inevitably fail, because according to World Trade Organization rules, there has to be a border. Shouldn’t you level with people and explain that?”
 
May: “As the UK government, we remain committed to doing everything we can to ensure no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”
You can read the full article here.