Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Britain is a country with a department store called John Lewis which has commodified the loneliness of old men at Christmas
The charity, 'Age UK', which has given its blessing to the John Lewis campaign to highlight the plight of loneliness among pensioners, while at the same time maximising the company's profits at Christmas, said it was “delighted and touched” at the response so far. The main focus of John Lewis has been the multi million pound video ad called 'The Man on the Moon' which tells the story, to the words of Oasis 'Half the World Away' sung by Norwegian, Aurora, of a little girl called Lily who :
* sits next to her brother and is bored as he is engrossed with playing his xbox.
* looks at the moon through a telescope at the window in the lounge.
* focuses on a hut in a crater from which and old man emerges in total isolation.
* opens her mouth in awe and waves at the old man who looks up and sees nothing.
* skates outside on her scooter the next day and has a thought.
* goes back to the telescope while she eats her toast and sees the old man sitting on a bench on the edge of a crater.
* sees his blank eyes, stares back with open eyes and dashes upstairs.
* writes the old man a letter with a smiley hand and outside climbs a ladder.
* waves her envelope addressed to 'the Man on the Moon' at the old man.
* wraps the letter around an arrow and fires it, unsuccessfully, from the roof window at the moon.
* throws the letter, unsuccessfully, as a paper dart at the moon.
* looks fed up, while the old man bows his lonely head on the moon.
* runs down stairs to open her presents on Christmas Day, thanks her Mum and dances with the other kids.
* on the moon the old man raises his head at the approach of a gift wrapped present carried to him by a cluster of balloons.
While on the moon the old men :
* eagerly opens his present, a telescope and looks at the people in the snow in Lily's road.
* pans his telescope across the festively lit houses and zooms in on Lily waving at him by her telescope.
* looks with a smiling eye through her lens while he sheds a tear from one eye looking through his lens.
* waves at Lily from his seat and 'Show someone they're loves this Christmas' is imposed on the night sky.
* followed by : 'John Lewis in store / online / mobile' is imposed on the night sky.
John Lewis has said that the purpose of the ad is to raise awareness of the elderly and the importance of being together at Christmas through 'thoughtful gift giving.' Apparently the John Lewis 'gift giving' to Age UK will consist of a modest 'hundreds of thousands' of pounds made from just three distinct products.
So has John Lewis 'commodified loneliness' as suggested by Christopher Hooton in an article in the 'Independent', when he asked the question :
'Is its heart in the right place? Or does it communicate corporate, materialistic, self-interest values under the guise of charity?'
The answer is that : it doesn't really matter. Clearly 'Age UK' doesn't care if it does or not. Esther Jackson, its 'Marketing and Fundraising Director' said: “We really hoped the ad would strike a chord with people - driving not only awareness, but importantly donations and actions to help some of the million older people who go for a month without speaking to anyone. It’s also a great reminder to us all to reach out to older family members, friends and neighbours over the cold winter months. We’ve been delighted and touched by the response so far - for both this activity with John Lewis and our wider ‘No one should have no one at Christmas’ campaign. We’ll be responding to all those who have got in touch about wanting to volunteer.”
In addition, more than 500 people in the last week have also called 'Contact the Elderly', which organises Sunday tea parties for people aged over 75 living alone, with many citing the advert as the reason. Mary Rance, Chief Executive of Charity said:
“We see first-hand how debilitating loneliness is for older people, and things like the John Lewis advert and the recent Bisto campaign are helping to highlight this more widely. Our dedicated network of over 8,000 volunteers make a huge difference to the lives of older people across the country by contributing just a few hours a month through our tea parties. We’re delighted that more people are coming forward to help. Our simple solution is one that works, and we’d love to extend our lifeline to more older people.”