John Lewis Christmas ad: I’m not crying but...

Patrick Freyne: There’s nude pigeons, flying snow people, heart-shaped haircuts – and a broken time-space continuum

Wake up everyone! It's John Lewis ad day. John Lewis and Waitrose just delight in making us cry – dogs on trampolines, delusional children with penguins, lonely men sitting on benches on the moon – all have been used in the past to prompt our consumption lubricating tears.

In fairness to them, their new animation-rich ad raises money for two very good UK causes: food poverty charity FareShare and parent-support charity, Home-Start.

The new ad is titled Give a Little Love and it has a lot going on in it. Bear with me.

First a boy gets his ball is stuck in a tree. A pigeon comes along to perch beside the ball but couldn't be arsed doing anything about it because, to quote David Attenborough "pigeons are the s***heads of the animal kingdom" (this may not be an actual Attenborough quote). So instead of depending on avian altruism, a kind little girl throws up a heart-shaped umbrella which knocks the ball from the tree.


But wait! This somehow unravels the very fabric of reality and they are transformed into plasticine people – their hair, their clothes, presumably their internal organs and dreams – all plasticine.

The little boy, now reckoning with some inexplicable new laws of physics, walks down the street where he sees a melting plasticine snowman to whom he gives a heart shaped balloon which lifts the 3D animated snowman aloft and into a 2D animated world in which snowfolk are the dominant species. T

here, the now self-realised snowman then helps some other snowpeople by using his own torso to create a wheel for their banjaxed snowcar.

This is by far the biggest sacrifice anyone makes in this entire ad. Nobody is horrified by this. They’re all delighted. Such is this brave new world.

The snowcouple in the snowcar, now partly propelled by a fellow snowhuman’s torso, deliver Waitrose goodies to a household of 2D animated humans one of whom is spying on his neighbour Rear Window-style with binoculars. He extends a massive Christmas cracker from his house to the morose neighbour’s house which results in a heart-shaped explosion and the neighbour laughing hysterically for over 24 hours at a Christmas cracker joke.

This hysteria goes on to impact on the neighbour’s day job as a barber when the next day he cuts a child’s hair into the shape of a heart. This heart-headed child then transforms into a regular flesh human who in his family home, gifts a glowing John Lewis heart to his younger sibling who places it atop a Christmas tree.

But wait! Outside the window sits an animated pigeon in clothes. This puts the nude pigeon earlier into a rather sordid light because it means that pigeons do, in fact, have the concept of “clothes” (something I’ve long suspected). The pigeon in clothes goes to meet other hip pigeons nearby who are just chilling. Along comes a hedgehog who is wearing just a scarf and a hat but is flapping some pigeon feathers. This unedifying behaviour is rewarded by a trip in a biplane which then draws a heart in the sky, which is witnessed by a fabric-animated lady on the tube who uses a heart shaped sticker to fix the glasses of a little girl, who then transforms, once more, into a real flesh human.

We know her! It’s the girl from scene one! Inspired by this act of glasses-related kindness she then chooses to help the little boy to knock his ball out of the tree. This causality-defying loop presumably continues for all eternity, the participants hopefully ignorant of their infinite fate. Yes, John Lewis has broken the time space continuum.

I’m not quite crying, but suddenly the idea of a god being born a person on the first Christmas no longer seem like such a deviation from natural norms. The ad also seems to be saying that even though we have undergone inexplicable transformations this year, there’s no reason not to be kind to each other.

Well done everyone and let me be the first to say Happy Christmas to you all!