I do try to keep Christmas locked away until December but it has started to work it’s way into my November! There is always an air of excitement as the big department stores release their Christmas adverts and this year is no exception. John Lewis & Partners has launched its 2018 Christmas advertising campaign, The Boy & The Piano.
The advert tells how one gift in particular inspired and influenced the course of a little boy’s life. That little boy just happens to be Elton John. The feedback has been mixed but I admit this advert did give me goosebumps and the all important “Christmassy” feeling- in all honesty I loved it and here are my reasons why:
The Passing of Time
Time goes by so quickly, without us really noticing from day to day. It’s the big occasions in life, such as Christmas and Birthdays that act as markers to our passing years. I loved how the advert began with Elton John in present time and then took us back in time through his career all the way to him being being gifted his first piano (some poetic license has been granted here as he actually learnt to play on his grandmother’s piano). It has been cleverly made using real audio clips from him singing during those times and the attention to detail is perfect. Sir Elton said: “The John Lewis Christmas campaign has so many warm memories for me and my family.
“It’s been a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing my grandmother’s piano marks the moment when music came into my life.”
Family is everything, at Christmas and all year through. It’s heartwarming to see a “young Elton” depicted with important people from his past, his mother and grandmother (and notably not his father as they had a strained relationship). I love thinking back to Christmas with my parents and grandparents. Those days were the happiest and I hope my children will look back as fondly at their time with our family too. This advert is also a wonderful tribute to his mother who died last December.
“Your Song” has always been one of my favourite songs. When Danny was born it’s the first song I sang to him while we were alone in hospital. “I don’t have much money, but boy if I did I’d buy a big house where we both could live.” were such apt lyrics at the time as were “How wonderful life is while you’re in the world.” Seeing “Elton” with his mother, makes me think of me and my boy. “Your Song” is a song that so many people can relate to and make their own. Interestingly, it’s the second time John Lewis have used it in a Christmas advert:
The scene were Elton’s Gran and Mum are watching him play during a piano recital had me in tears as one of my favourite parts of the festive season is watching the kids perform during their school Christmas plays. My kids sadly aren’t doing one this year as their school have made some changes (I cried when I heard this news) but this advert perfectly captures the apprehension and pride that parents have when watching these shows. I love the moment where he looks to them for reassurance, which they warmly give.
The Gift of Music
To me, this advert isn’t saying “You must buy a piano” (as some people have crudely taken as the meaning). It’s just saying a gift is sometimes more than a gift. It’s the thought behind the present, the joy the present will give and in some cases the effect that gift could have on the rest of that person’s life. In our home, music is important. The kids play instruments, Dave plays in a band and we listen to music constantly. It’s the soundtrack to our days. We have given musical instruments as presents in the past, Rebecca’s last birthday present was a new electric guitar that she needed for school. We know that unlike many of her toys, these instruments will be of importance for her during the rest of her life. Even if she doesn’t become a world wide superstar like Elton (imagine!) , the joy that playing gives her daily, will be with her for life. Music isn’t everyone’s “thing” but we can all give thoughtful gifts that have a lasting effect on the life of a child- such as a book with meaning or an experience they will never forget. This advert also makes you think of the “What ifs”, imagine if Elton John had never taught himself the piano at he age of four and his catalogue of songs never existed…
Of course, not everyone is going to like the same advert. I’ve always been a fan of Elton John so I am biased towards it. I’ve heard people saying it’s just an advert for his (sold out) farewell tour, to be honest that never needed advertising. I see it more as an honour to Elton John as he embarks on his last tour. There are rumours that he got paid a rather large amount of money to appear in this advert and yes there are always better ways that millions of pounds could be spent. However each year I read reports on the millions he has donated to charity too and he is one of the UK’s most charitable star (alongside JK Rowling).
Will this advert make me shop at John Lewis? Well, only if they have what I want online and at the best price (I don’t have a store nearby)!
My only concern is that perhaps children too young to be aware of Elton John, will not fully realise the significance and magic of the advert. At it’s heart though this advert offers us a sense of nostalgia and hopefully will inspire children (and adults) by reminding them that anyone can follow their dreams, you just need to start – “how wonderful life is!”
The ad first airs on television on Thursday at 9.15pm during ITV’s Dark Heart (I have a feeling more surprises are on the way too) – have you seen the advert yet? What are your thoughts?