Sam and Monty are the new duo to have a place on our screens this Christmas. John Lewis is almost on par with the famed Coca-Cola advertisements in heralding the coming of Christmas with their latest advent offering but with their latest tagline (“Give someone the Christmas they have been dreaming of“) leaving hearts warmed and eyes stinging from tears, is the advert displaying a message of hope or just appealing to the consumerist nature of our society?
Following the journey of a friendship between a little boy named Sam and his best friend, Monty the penguin, the advert goes on to show Monty’s sadness about not having a mate who he can love. Eventually in a true uplifting fashion, not dissimilar to last year’s advert, the Christmas gift is that which finds a way to bring complete happiness. The way the advert is performed is incredibly heart warming and sweet but does it leave us that way because it appeals to our nature of believing that we can only find true happiness in the form of another person or material possession?
Christmas time for many is about giving and receiving gifts and John Lewis (amongst numerous other companies including Sainsbury’s with their WW1 trench themed tear jerker or M&S’ Magic and Sparkle fairies) is appealing to the nature of our society by combining this tradition with the cultural mentality of finding completion in the form of another person. But is this really what the message of Christmas is all about? Putting aside for a moment ideas on the Pagan tradition of Yuletide, Christmas gets its name and fundamentally has its roots in the Christian festival of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ into the world. For many Christians this celebration is a time of hope as it signifies the beginnings of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Advent in particular is a time of expectancy and preparation which the advert demonstrates in the short story of Monty the penguin. But once Christmas day has come and gone, is that it? What if you didn’t find the happiness you had been searching for? Ironically, Christmas for many signifies the end of the year, yet the true meaning is more than just a winter festival but the beginning of a much greater story. As shops like John Lewis boost their advertising in an effort to increase sales they often miss the entire message of what Christmas is all about.
It cannot be denied that Sam and Monty’s story is moving and it certainly succeeded in getting people talking about John Lewis but it places an emphasis on the Western view that happiness and dream fulfillment comes in the form of a material possession. Beneath it all, the message of hope cannot be criticised but instead encouraged so that people may be able to enjoy Christmas time and the sense of hope that it brings. Rather than being engulfed in the mad rush that our consumerist society brings at this time of year, instead advent time should be a time of reflection and preparation. A time to reflect on what Christmas really means and to prepare for the celebration of life at the darkest time of the year.
Image rights; John Lewis