Warning!! This article may offend your artistic integrity. ( Hi, Elliot!)
Well I thought the Yellow Pages TV ad campaign in the 1980s took some beating in the sentiment stakes (see link to my article about the J R Hartley ad, below) – but I think ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ English store John Lewis has just taken the trophy for best ever tear-jerker in a broadcast commercial.
’Please Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want,’ the seminal ‘Smiths’ song, has been commandeered by contemporary singer /songwriter, Slow Moving Millie, singing the back tune to this yuletide story of a lovely little boy (played by 7 year old Scot, Lewis McGowan) desperately awaiting Christmas Day, 2011, when he will hopefully, ‘get what he wants’.
In the true Christmas spirit of ‘festive season’ broadcast fare, the twist at the end is the absolute killer. I’m not ashamed to admit it made me cry – and my teenage son succumbed as well. He’s all warm and affectionate and all that, but still - not usually given to tears, particularly when watching a TV commercial, though at first I thought it was the commercial use of Morrissey’s classic song that broke his heart.
The Smiths’ iconic lyricist and lead singer allowed John Lewis to use his tune – and similarly, last Christmas, Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ as covered by Ellie Goulding, was used in the John Lewis Christmas ad campaign. Sacrilege you may say - but just watch it (and if you’re not in the UK, I’ll put the link to the commercial on the Brit TV forum here at Bellaonline, just click on 'Forum' next to this article, then away you go) – and see what you think!
The main part is brilliantly portrayed by little Lewis, who is adorable, the direction is impeccable, the storyline a treat. It’s just dead good, as they say in my home town of Manchester, and the fact that the great pop god Morrisey and proud Mancunian (native of our fair city) is in league with Mammon, and has ‘sold out’ doesn’t bother me one bit. This commercial is inspired, a work of art – and even Millie makes a fair stab at the cover, performing an emotional backdrop to a commercial tour de force. Any Smiths fans with lingering doubts – Please, Please, Please! just watch the ad. I defy you not to cry. Oh OK – the big bad boys out there, determined to remain unmoved, and who hold the moral integrity of Morrisey to be sacrosanct – I defy you not to well up a bit, then. Go on, admit it – it’s brilliant!
Was it worth £6 million? Erm...is any commercial worth £6 million? (£6 Million, by the way!!!!). Probably not. The store is set to release the (very originally entitled!) 'Released' - a compilation album of John Lewis Christmas tracks, in November 2011, in a bid to break into the highly competitive Christmas pop charts. This includes covers of songs by The Beatles and Guns 'n' Roses, so they're clearly going for it!
Two pounds from each sale goes to the Save The Children fund - possibly to offset any doubts the music buying public may have about a traditional store usually selling soft furnishings and kitchenware, appealing in the main to middle England, now entering the trendy annals of the pop charts. As Ellie Goulding went on to sing her version of 'Your Song' to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the royal wedding, clearly Slow Moving Millie is now in esteemed company, and may be set for her own fair share of fame.
Even Johnny Marr has come out to support his former band mate, Morrissey, saying ‘It doesn’t sully the Smiths’ memory’, after fans went on Twitter to express their disappointment at the use of the song. Let’s face it, the man is (also)an artistic genius, and art is art, after all. Even if you’re with Bill Hicks on this one, ie that all commercial advertising is iniquitous and irredeemable (or other such euphemisms!) – just watch it, anyway.
Like I say - it’s dead good.