It’s the not too distant future. You can tell it’s the not too distant future because it looks a bit like the not too distant past mixed with today stuff and some kind of element of incongruity. Lewdeyes McRandyfloss-barnet grazes the driftwood planks that belie what is left of his porch. His crestfallen infinite march had conscripted friction to do its bidding; Reducing the once thick boards to toothpicks creaking under boot. He glared at the wooden shack with its age scorched white timber (that had come to camouflage amongst his wisping hair) and challenged the structure to remember who had greyed first.
If you were to gaze upon Lewdeyes from afar, you could be forgiven for omitting a guttural empathetic gulp; this poor soul so lost and ever lonely. Of course, you fools, you’d be wrong to. Lewdeyes’ fate was crafted in the coldness of his own earthly misdemeanour. He had done things, unspeakable things, that had secured his ticket to this solitary abode. Murder of the most foul degree; belligerent theft, taking much and leaving only broken bones; vindictive hate speech causing riot amongst communities; reprehensible invasions of personal space belonging to the most innocent. If Satan dreamt it, Lewdeyes had done it. For his crimes he had befallen the greatest reprimand the not too distant future could bestow: A one-way trip to the fucking Moon. He was allowed but a single totem of his terrible terran days to travel in tow. He had chosen his favourite bench. As he walked toward it forlorn, he rued its nostalgia, for he knew its comfort was not in sitting but in situ. There was no preying to be done on this lunar landscape. He sat. Stupid Moon.
Hello there, it’s Sam interrupting the cheery Christmas tale. Not waiting until the crackles of whizz-bang rockets and Catherine wheels have echoed out, it seems Christmas crackers and silly jumpers are already up on the advertising rota. Anyone who knows me (and anyone who has just read the opening two paragraphs of this post) will be aware of my vehement dislike of advertising. I can take a bit of “football crazy, chocolate mad” or “Wooooahhhhhhh bodyform” now and then but, on the whole, the stuff makes me want to vomit my own vomit out and then have it vomit on the TV itself. Largely cringe worthy, sometimes completely obtuse and always patronising, adverts reserve a place in my anger vaults matched only by the process of having to navigate a crowd of ambling shoppers. In fact, the two often combine forces to form an axis of evil hell-bent on making my very existence resemble a constantly looping zoetrope of a screaming emoji (I also hate emojis).
Over the last couple of years it would seem the folks at advertising land have grown tired of eliciting the same level of anger from me on each attempt. “I think his furious disapproval has been over-saturated” I imagine they cry. “We need to push to the next level of monstrosity. Open up a whole new demographic of mental pain”. Thus, Sadvertising was born. You know the type. I won’t link them because that will just promote them further. Last year’s Sainsburys war epic springs to mind. Bombard the viewer with a story linked to some form of compassion amongst the chaos of the world, and then attribute that as being in someway linked to buying groceries. They take heartstrings, arrange them in the form of a harp and pluck away. There’s nothing comforting about the tune, as each pluck resonates in their ears as a monotonous till “kerching”. This year’s endeavours from John Lewis use much the same tactic. I wonder how this trend even started. How did they get to this point?
John Lewis Bigwig: Hmmm, we have a lot of shit. Like, loads of it. Nobody really needs it. We are basically selling nothing in shiny boxes. Have you done any research on the successful sale of nothing?
Advertising Bigwig: Actually we have. Our studies show that certain charities get a sizeable amount of custom from making people feel like shit. People literally just give them money. They don’t even give them anything back. Just out of some sense of human longing and compassion, they give up the cash.
John Lewis Bigwig: That’s exactly what we need! Only, surely we will have an advantage since we give people some shit in return for their money. This is going to be great!
Advertising Bigwig: Not so fast! Our focus groups show that when people feel a little sad, they also feel like there should be a little good come of their suffering. That’s how the charities get away with it. See, they use the majority of the money to help people or something. I don’t know their precise model. We just did the adverts and let the hippies pay us for it.
John Lewis Bigwig: Hmmm, that sounds risky. We’re already paying £7m for the advert. If we wanted to help people, we would just give that to a charity. Is there someway we can buy this “good” element for a negligible amount?
John Lewis pricing Scrawnywig: Way ahead of you boss! We have calculated that the most negligible loss of profits towards something good would come from a donation following the sales of our Mugs, tags and cards.
Advertising Bigwig: Excellent. So it’s settled. I find the softest voiced singer songwriter I can, and choose a suitably lexiconned pop song. To make sure we get the right level of dark duende in her voice, I’ll strangle a puppy after each take in front of her very eyes until there are no puppies left in the world.
The mugs, tags and fucking cards. I shit you not. That is what profit will be donated to Age UK (that’s the cause the advert has been aligned with, apparently). They have chosen three things that only lonely pensioners go out and buy in bulk around Christmas time. At worst it’s a some kind of sick ponzi scheme for pensioners. At best it’s just a minor elderly communal discount on mugs. This is the worst part of the whole sadvertising saga. They are tricksy, these sadvertisers. All they are doing is openly making you feel charitable but associate that caring towards their brand. They then make it defendable through public opinion by giving yay-sayers the cry of “Oh, stop complaining about it, they have made loads of money for X,Y and Z charities!”. Well, no. I won’t take that. Sure, it’s fucking great that Age UK will get a good influx of money around Christmas. Nobody but the most veracious curmudgeon would begrudge that. My objection comes from the utilisation of our emotions against us to make us think we are doing good by giving John Lewis money. It’s like they are venereously eyeing up the arsehole of our moral integrity and ploughing on in. Whilst we cry, squeal and clamour they mitigate with a charitable reach around. Certainly, I am glad there is at least a reach around, but I will never compliment the offender’s buggery by pushing back. So, with that, I will conclude by ending my re-write of the new John Lewis ad. Hopefully my take will ruin it for you. If you’d like to donate some money to Age UK, go ahead and do so here. Don’t buy a fucking mug, you mug.
Lewdeyes sat on the cold bench. A soft breeze didn’t lightly ruffle his hair bringing with it a whistle of sadness, because he was on the fucking Moon. How strange, this being so, that a collection of balloons should float to his perched frame. Attached to the festivity blimp was a package. He unburdened it of its lofty carriage and read the John Lewis tag attached. “Mr. McRandyfloss-barnet, please open” he read aloud. He tentatively followed instruction and found within it a telescope amongst other items. Yielding the telescope in his sinful torn leathery grip, he did the only thing a sinful torn leathery grip knows to do with a telescope: He put his eye to it and pointed at a child’s bedroom window. There waiting was a young girl waving enthusiastically. Unusual, he thought, that she should be so happy of his intrusion, but he wasn’t one to look a Christmas gift horse in the mouth. A single tear of joy stuck to his eyeball making it look like some weird ocular jelly trifle, because Space. Perhaps this would not be such a bad Christmas after all?! He looked down in preparation to remove his old man trousers and caught a glimpse of the card still in the parcel. A John Lewis card, no less. He opened it to reveal its message of Joyeux Noel (For some reason his mind wanted to read Joyeux Noel Gallagher. There was a shitty rendition of Oasis feel around the Moon of late). The card read:
“I’m sorry, but the UK Government has denied your petition to have the Coca Cola truck visit the Moon. We hope you will instead find comfort in your brand new John Lewis mug found beneath the wrapping of the telescope. Happy Christmas, you dirty old twat.”
He returned the telescope to his trifle eye, and from behind the slush could just make out the girl, with a now more spiteful snarl, raise her middle finger and shut the curtains. He reached down to pick up his mug in fury. With what little energy remained in his brittle old arms, he flung it at the ground. It floated down gracefully with not so much as a single anger cathartic crack administered upon landing, because Space. Stupid Moon.