A leading contender for the best ad of the Christmas season is likely to be this spot for U.K. retailer John Lewis (see below), but not for the reasons the advertiser intended. The spot itself is a delightful tearjerker with a surprise ending — which I won’t spoil for you. Launched on Nov. 11, it has already gathered 1.2 million views on YouTube, making it the runaway toast of the ad world.
Be warned: Don’t press play unless you’re prepared to wipe the tears from your eyes by the final scene. It features a small, pouting, little boy who is counting down the days to Christmas, all set to a mournful reworking of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want.” The epic commercial cost £6 million (some commentators think that level of excess is controversial).
The ad has so taken the Brits by storm that it has spawned several remixes on YouTube, most from people who saw the original commercial and noticed that, with the sound off, it carries a deeply creepy subtext, akin to The Shining or The Omen. Just what is inside that gift-wrapped box? And what inner demons are driving the petulant kid? First, watch the original spot:
Now check out this version. Same visuals, but this time the music (and the screen captions, which are hilarious) has been changed by YouTube user 1SchrodingersDog:
Similarly, the ad also doubles as a remake of the 1976 classic The Omen:
And if you enjoyed that you’ll surely enjoy “John Lewis Shining Christmas,” based on the Kubrick movie starring a psychotic Jack Nicholson:
If you’re a Smiths fan, you’ll want to see what the ad would have looked like had ad agency Adam & Eve gone with the original version of the song:
If you’re not fully sated by now — and surely you’re getting close? — here’s an inexplicable version in which a completely inappropriate Smiths’ song has been substituted for the original:
The phenom of consumers remixing their favourite ads is a new and welcome development in the ad world. Last year, it was Coca-Cola’s turn, when its jolly Santa ad was given an Inception-inspired makeover. It happens in reverse, too. Here’s The Shining reworked as a family comedy:
The latter video is a YouTube sensation of its own, having been viewed 2.3 million times since its 2006 release. John Lewis could enjoy similar exposure — as long as it can keep its copyright lawyers restrained.
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