In Depth

John Lewis ad launches 'man 
on the moon' Christmas ad

Tear-jerker tale sets Twittersphere alight – viewer responses, the good, the bad and the ugly

John Lewis has released its annual Christmas advert, this year featuring a lonely man living on the moon, as the department store brings a charitable element to the start of the lucrative Christmas retail season.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"86571","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

The £1 million production, filmed mostly in Warner Brothers studios in Hertfordshire, is called 'Man on the Moon'. It features the story of a girl called Lily who spots an old man, living alone on the moon and devises a way to send him a telescope, which he then uses to spot her back on earth, prompting tears of joy.

It all plays out to a cover of the Oasis tune, Half the World Away, best known at the theme tune for The Royle Family TV show, but reinterpreted here by Norwegian newcomer Aurora.

The ad has already got the commentators and social media talking.

Christian Tobin on Digital Spy says this year's John Lewis Christmas is "out of this world – literally", adding that it's the latest in a long line of ads by the store designed to "tug on the heart-strings as much as the purse-strings".

Yet while John Lewis's seasonal ad has come to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping frenzy, The Guardian notes that this year the department store aims to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Age UK as well. It will also encourage staff and customers to join up with their local branch of the charity to care for elderly people who might otherwise be alone over the holiday.

Harry Wallop in the Daily Telegraph says John Lewis has gained a reputation for producing "the most memorable Christmas adverts in recent years" and this year has proved "it has lost none of its ambition".

Putting aside the huge liberties taken with the laws of astrophysics, says Wallop, "it is a beautifully-shot and touching two-minute film". He adds that John Lewis helps itself by sticking to a tried and true formula of casting cute children, ensuring no one speaks and featuring a plot about giving rather than receiving.

Tech Radar reports that the John Lewis ad has "set the Twitterverse alight", noting that Nasa's own advert, announcing that it is looking for astronauts for its Mars program, didn't do nearly as well on Twitter.

Twitter comments, however, ranged from the sensitive to the blackly humorous and the downright grim.

Many commented that the ad was a tearjerker. Selina Wray says: "Ahh John Lewis, should not have watched this sat at my desk – something in my eye." Others, like Steve Dresser, wanted more of a Royle Family connection: "Not a bad stab from John Lewis, would have enjoyed the man on the moon being Jim Royle given the music choice."

While some people saw darker things behind the Christmas fable, several, commenting that there was something disturbing about an old man getting a telescope to look at a little girl. Dan Hart wondered if the little girl was tormenting the lonely old man on the Moon "by showing him everything he's missing on Earth". 

Whether positive or negative, the flurry of attention will help keep the John Lewis ad in the spotlight on a crowded stage as other retailers release their Christmas promos, from Marks & Spencer, which launches its Christmas ad on Friday, to a Burberry festive film featuring Romeo Beckham and Elton John, and Currys's first dedicated Christmas ad set to feature American actor Jeff Goldblum. 

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