By Aoife Hanna
The John Lewis home insurance advert is gaining the kind of attention that money can't buy—if you believe there's no such thing as bad press that is. The brand has become synonymous with heartfelt ads, but this one has polarised opinions.
Not many companies can say that their position in the hearts and minds of the UK general public is quite so prominent. John Lewis has long since been regarded as an icon of British culture, so much so that the John Lewis Christmas advert premiere has become an annual event.
There's a lot more to the company than their department stores and it's a recent ad for their home insurance that's got so many people talking. The ad sees a young boy, dressed in his mum's clothes, going absolutely wild while tearing up his (very nice) family home. Think make-up everywhere, dancing on furniture, wilfully knocking things over. All to the dulcet tones of the one and only Stevie Nicks.
For some, the advert proved to be entertainment at its finest. "Forget the John Lewis Christmas ad, their home insurance one is BRILLIANT," said one Twitter user.
Another added, "So…can we talk about the sheer fabulosity of the John Lewis home insurance ad?"
Many have praised the inclusivity of the ad, which fights gender norms, and the pure unbridled fun of the child who performs throughout.
However, some feel that the diverse gender representation is too political. "Anything unusual or agenda-pushing about it?" said one Twitter user in reference to the advert's pro-equality stance.
Others have pointed to their belief that the advert actually enforces old-fashioned gender norms, and is the opposite of modernity. "Boy gets to create a mess, while sister has her paints destroyed, and mum watches on indulgingly knowing she'll have to clean up in a bit. Oh well, boys will be boys. Nothing new going on here," said one user.
Others have claimed that it 'sexualizes children,' with some users saying they intend to boycott the retailer after seeing it. Boycotting is a bad look for any business, and in light of some John Lewis stores permanently closing following the lockdown, it's the last thing they need.
In response to these criticisms, many have countered that nobody seemed quite so upset when a similar ad, featuring a young girl dancing, was produced by John Lewis back in 2017.
As the advert also seemed to portray a child willfully destroying their family home, one person commented, "Dear John Lewis, I have watched your new ad for home insurance. It implies to me you would payout for this damage depicted, caused while an adult is passively watching the boy wreck the house. Can you confirm this is the case, please? Thanks."
Considering the ongoing outrage expressed by some, and those wondering if their insurance would cover such an incident, John Lewis had their say.
"Although many children do dress up and dance around their homes the advert is a dramatic, fictional story created to entertain. We hope our customers will appreciate this ad in the spirit it was intended."
Beautiful imagery, storytelling, emotional rollercoasters, powerful ballads, and a whole lot of luxury items—at prices never knowingly undersold. Those are the components of your average John Lewis ad, or at least for their retail focussed ads.
The proof is in the pudding for the insurance brokers, after GoCompare crowns John Lewis winner at its first-ever Insurance Awards.
Despite the backlash, in the grand scheme of things, one individual might have hit the nail on the head when they said, "When did we all get so uptight that we can’t appreciate a lighthearted, fun ad? It’s not trying to be a social commentary, it’s not trying to upset anyone. Calm down before you faint!"
Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.
She's an Irish journalist and writer with over 1500 bylines and a background in creative writing, comedy and TV production.
Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the soon-to-be-published Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.
Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.
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