Festive False Start

07 November 2016 | Lloyd Hughes

The John Lewis Christmas advert has become such a festive staple that it’s eagerly anticipated by just about anyone who gets excited at the first glimpse of supermarket tinsel (scandalously in October these days).

The years have produced some memorable efforts – a lonely old man on the moon, the bear and the hare, Monty the penguin, a loving snowman and snowwoman, a little boy desperate to give his parents a present. John Lewis has repeatedly wowed, pulling on the sentimental heartstrings of a nostalgic British public. Indeed, it’s that much of a fixture we seem to blog about it annually.

2016 is turning out to be no different, with Christmas lovers desperate for a glimpse of what the brand has in store. Rumours abound on the internet – some suggest it’s set to be focused on a boxer dog and a girl bouncing on a spacehopper thanks to a mysterious 10 second video clip posted on Twitter from an anonymous account.

Yet more have been convinced by a snowman centric full length video. Featuring a lonely looking snowman trapped in a snow globe counting down until Christmas, whilst reminiscing about his snowwoman companion. Leaving aside the fact that this was very much a case of been there, done that, from John Lewis, the video was polished and professional looking with a suitably lachrymose theme. It also ended with John Lewis branding and a message to ‘appreciate the moments’, which understandably sealed the deal for some people.

Upon its emergence, social media was instantly awash with excitement that the John Lewis advert was already here.

Only it wasn’t. It turned out that the video was in fact a hoax John Lewis advert created as part of an A-Level project by a student called Nick Jablonka.

Now, that is some remarkable feat. To have your A-Level work confused with a multi-million-pound effort from one of the UK’s best loved brands is an accolade that should be put firmly at the top of a CV. ‘Nick Jablonka: Fooled thousands.’

The story was reported on just about every national news outlet, including the BBC and the Guardian, with the London Evening Standard since reporting that he’d been offered a job (a smart PR move from W Communications, plus it’s clear to see Jablonka’s no plonker so you’d be getting some talent).

This kind of PR coverage is music to the ears of John Lewis, and further seals its advert’s position as a regular fixture of Christmas. It’s also great personal PR for Nick Jablonka, as not many 18-year-olds can boast of having such a tour de force on their portfolio.

It puts the actual John Lewis advert under some pressure to deliver, but I’m sure that’s a pressure the brand will relish, as it continues to bat away rivals to its Christmas crown.