Can I have a word about John Lewis?

I know much has already been written about their new ‘Always a Woman’ 91 second brand film (that extra second makes all the difference), but it’s really bugging me.

Now, I love Johnny Lewis.  Shop there all the time, watched the documentary on BBC2 etc etc.  But this just makes me depressed.  For lots of reasons.

First off is the ‘one minute you’re a happy little girl full of hopes and dreams, and the next you’re nearly dead’ storyline.  Lovely.

And I’m depressed by how unoriginal it is.  Aside from the fact that it’s clearly a direct rip of an ad for the Italian lingerie firm Calzedonia (which even uses the same Billy Joel track, would you believe… how’s that for ‘coincidence’?), we’ve seen this cradle to grave stuff so many times before – usually for Financial Services.  At least Lloyd’s ‘for the journey’ made more sense; clearly showcasing the relevance of its products for different life stages (despite the annoying music that I suspect was sung by a cuckoo on helium).

How can this extravaganza properly ‘showcase’ any product when the focus is so clearly on the evolving central character?  What is it about this ad that they think will make people say ‘You know what, I hadn’t realised just how relevant John Lewis is to my entire life.  Must go there next time I need a new hoover…’?

A clear case, methinks, of ‘Oops, your strategy’s showing!’

But for me, the most depressing thing of all is their take on life as a modern woman.  This poor creature spends 70 years trapped in the house, getting out only to get married and have a picnic.  Career, what career?  I’m right in their demographic, but I don’t recognise her.

I may be in a minority, and the tabloids are clearly loving the schmaltz (although my sceptical marketing brain thinks there may well have been a very slick PR campaign behind this) but I can’t really see what has got “the nation crying into its commercial break cuppa…” (The Sun).

Call me an old cynic, if you will.