John Lewis, Tom Odell, Monty The Penguin and the ruination of Christmas

Christmas 2014's furry friend Monty the Penguin

Christmas 2014’s furry friend Monty the Penguin

Christmas is coming and resistance is futile, Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby takes stock of the twisted world of the festive ad campaign.

There have always been two kinds of Christmas advert.

Firstly, there’s the borderline insulting concept that we’ll buy anything celebrities buy. You know what, Morrisons? We weren’t intending to shop at your supermarket, but having just watched Richard Hammond buy a joint of beef from one of your unappealing butchers to the sound of Mark Owen’s terrible vocals on some nondescript Take That song, we’re sold!

Although, could someone please tell us why he took his own trolley? Does he not want to risk touching a trolley that has been touched by the general public in case he gets pleb germs? Fuck you, Richard Hammond. Prejudice is ignorance.

Secondly, there’s the saccharine kind. The advertising executive who thinks he’s a movie director. It tends not be supermarkets who produce these commercials, it’s usually the more pretentious high street stores. They like to make a big deal about these ads when they’re premièred, because they seem to have mistakenly decided that anybody cares outside of their boardroom. John Lewis are arguably the leaders of this world of contrived bullshit and last week they premièred their latest masterpiece, “#MontyThePenguin”.

Yes, you read that correctly, “#MontyThePenguin”. This is yet another attempt to trick thick people into making something only thick people care about trend on twitter.

#MontyThePenguin” essentially follows the year-long adventures of a small boy who owns a randy penguin (presumably named Monty) who is looking for some action, but the small boy is a rubbish wing-man so he isn‘t getting any. So, come Christmas the small boy (who will henceforth be referred to as Lancelot, because it’s about time that name made a comeback) buys another penguin so he can have it off, essentially saying that prostitution is okay in the penguin world.

Of course, it turns out to all be in Lancelot’s head, and Monty is actually a teddy penguin. Which means there is one of two conclusions to be drawn; either Lancelot is mentally ill and believes Monty really is Penguinocchio and his parents actually allowed him to use his pocket money to buy a present for what is essentially a piece of fabric…OR…Lancelot’s parents bought him a new teddy penguin to replace Monty because he is old, dirty and smells like condiments, meaning Monty will soon end up in the bin. Either way, we were emotionally invested in this for nothing. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Although, we do feel the need to make it clear that anyone who was emotionally invested in this needs to be aware that for every tear that leaves your eyes, and every sigh of “awwww” that leaves your mouth, you will lose at least one IQ point as a penalty. I know it looks like the kind of made for TV movie that Channel 5 shows in the afternoon, but it’s not. It’s an advert. They only want your money.

In any case, they don’t step foot inside a John Lewis store or show off any of their products. It makes you wonder what they made this for. There’s no way to know it’s a John Lewis advert until the last three seconds. If you caught it on TV, it could just as easily be a recap of the previous episode of some rubbish ITV drama.

While all this crap is going on, we are “treated” to Tom Odell singing John Lennon’s Real Love. If you don’t know who Tom Odell is, he is basically a miserable Hanson. And if you’ve never heard Real Love, don’t worry you’re not missing anything earth shattering – let’s be honest, Lennon’s solo material never really matched up to his name.

The choice has been controversial, as Lennon is often held in the kind of high esteem only populated by other dead people, such as Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Jesus to name a few. Some have taken to twitter to say that John Lewis have “nailed it again”, even though the only people who give adverts a second thought are people who work in advertising and sociopaths.

There has, however, also been some negative feedback on Odell’s cover. The usual kind of complaints; he’s not of Lennon’s stature, he’d be turning in his grave, you’ve ruined Christmas etc.

But John Lewis have made a thing about using breathy, slowed down covers of popular songs in their Christmas ads. We’ve had dreadful covers of Guns N RosesSweet Child O’ Mine, Elton John’s Your Song and The BeatlesFrom Me To You (Lennon strikes again).

Last year was a particular nadir of Lily Allen covering Keane, which does kind of make sense. I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t work in a boardroom openly admitting they like Keane. They’re the kind of band that somebody who was trying to sound down wid da kidz would pretend to like. They heard them on Radio 2 one day, and Steve Wright said they were a youngish band and they made a mental note of the name, which they could remember easily because there’s a footballer with that name too.

So, the next time their kids were talking about the bands they liked, they could turn around and say “you know who I quite like? Keane,” expecting to be met with mouths agape in awe and wonder, but actually being met with rolled eyes and mocking chuckles.

Tom Odell is like Keane in that sense. He’s the kind of artist that only an X Factor alumnus would consider a serious, artistic genius. Of course, he’s not. He’s basically Ed Sheeran for the piano, which is likely the only reason he won that BRIT Critic’s Choice Award. The people who buy his music are the kind of people who buy their music in Asda during their weekly shops because they heard that song on that advert.

Which is why, conversely, that makes him the perfect choice for this kind of project. The sort of people who would be impressed by the faux emotional manure peddled into our living rooms by John Lewis each Christmas is the kind of person who would buy a Tom Odell album. He’s Heart FM. He’s Coronation Street. He’s a Scary Movie sequel. He’s just…that type.

But, people seem to lap it up. So, we here at Getintothis are considering making our own Christmas advert to direct people to the site. We need to follow the rules as set by John Lewis; have it nothing to do with your product whatsoever. This unfortunately means it can’t have anything to do with music. Or any of our staff or writers. Or anything worth writing about.

So far, we have a despondent man with dwarfism on a farm somewhere just outside of King’s Lynn. He spends his days frolicking with the hens on the farm, and his nights looking for love at a village fete. However, he always has to stand on a portable bench that he always carries with him to reach women without dwarfism who just don’t appreciate or understand him. Also, he smells like hen dung, which doesn’t help matters. One day, when watching the video for Cheeky Christmas by the Cheeky Girls in a Curry’s shop window, a lady with dwarfism stands next to him and they immediately fall in love.

For music, we are considering Katie Melua covering Rage Against The Machine’s Killing in the Name in a slow, breathy, ballad version. But, it’s unlikely that Rage would let us use their music for an advertisement, so we may need to change that one.

At the end of the ad, the Getintothis logo flashes up, followed by a man in a suit giving the finger to an image of some starving children in Africa. Just to remind everyone how awful we were to spend so much money on something so trite, tasteless and self-serving. Happy Christmas: never knowingly undersold.