A British retailer is winning praise – and criticism – for its latest commercial. John Lewis is best known as a department store, a little like Nordstrom in the US. However, it also offers a range of other services, including home insurance.
A commercial for its insurance services has just been released demonstrating some of the damage younger members of the family can inflict on a home.
Within it, an exuberant young boy, wearing his mum’s makeup, heels, and a dress, sashays through his home miming to ‘Edge of Seventeen’ by Stevie Nicks. While doing so, he knocks over lamps, dislodges picture frames, smears nail varnish on a banister and spills his sister’s paints.
The commercial ends with the message ‘Let Life Happen’.
The campaign was created by ad agency Adam&Eve/DDB.
Claire Pointon, customer director for John Lewis, said in a statement to Ad Week, “We wanted to inject joy, freedom and humor into this campaign. The story we landed on fulfills this, with the idea that when you have John Lewis’ Home Insurance with the option of accidental damage cover, you don’t need to worry anymore, you can just ‘let life happen’.”
The ad follows a similar one that the company did five years ago, in which a young girl in a ballerina skirt dancer around her house to Elton John’s ‘Tiny Dancer.’
However, although that 2015 commercial was widely praised, the latest commercial has drawn a more divided response online. On YouTube, it’s prompted 1k ‘likes’ and 2.5k ‘dislikes’.
“Surely your home insurance doesn’t cover you for wilful damage, which this looks to be?” said one commentator. “Spoilt boy goes round the house trashing it and nobody stops him. Tell that to the insurance company and see if they wear it. That’s before we even get to the bullying of the sister & the message that sends out.”
“Delusional, woke, abhorrent hogwash,” said another. “The most sanctimonious, self-serving example of an advert I’ve ever seen.”
Another said they had no problem with the child (played by a 9-year-old called Reggie), dressing up, but with the behavior: “The kid looks cute, nothing wrong with a boy wearing a dress or make-up. But he’s being awful! … It’s not about how he’s dressed, it’s the fact his behavior is being applauded as him expressing himself and nobody is intervening when he’s being destructive and disrespectful.”
A spokesperson for John Lewis responded to this, saying, “Although many children do dress up and dance around their homes the advert is a dramatic, fictional story created to entertain. We hope our customers will appreciate this ad in the spirit it was intended.”
Many did, indeed, take it in that spirit.
“You guys need to get a sense of humor 🤣😂 this was hilarious 😆,” said one YouTube commentator.
“Lighthearted funny cute advert! Genuinely made me laugh!” said another on YouTube.
It’s really telling, how many people pretending that they’re annoyed that he’s trashing the house, when we all know what their real problem with it is!
— will gee (@willegee) October 13, 2021
Trans Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard was along those to share the advert on Twitter, saying “Maybe the 21st Century has arrived!”
Maybe the 21st Century has arrived! –
Home Insurance Has Boy Grooving to Stevie Nicks – Adweek https://t.co/sJELhVOLvg
— Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) October 12, 2021
Fleetwood Mac legend Stevie Nicks has also now commented. Her official Twitter account shared the video yesterday with the simple message: “Love this!”
— Stevie Nicks (@StevieNicks) October 13, 2021
On the afternoon of October 14, John Lewis issued a statement following some of the backlash against the advert.
Many of you have contacted us regarding the thinking behind our latest Home Insurance advert. Please find our response below: pic.twitter.com/lbTqFTSry2
— John Lewis & Partners (@JohnLewisRetail) October 14, 2021