Americans who find the tradition of British Christmas adverts painfully sincere may be more receptive to a new British tradition of lampooning traditional British Christmas adverts. Indeed, with the growth in digital editing expertise, a new custom of creating excellent parody ads of the most popular British Christmas ads is being created.
And the good news for the advertisers is that these parodies are great news for their brands. The definitive ad of the 2015 Brit Holiday Advert season is upmarket retail chain John Lewis’ “Man on the Moon.”
The short film—yet another example of the retailer’s branded entertainment prowess—is “the story of a young girl called Lily. Looking at the moon through her family telescope one night, she is amazed at what she finds, a man on the moon.” It’s a wistful tale with the message that Christmas is about connecting with people, and that a gift isn’t about the object as much as it is about letting someone know you’re thinking of them.
It’s a ginormous act of kindness—and yes, its’s somewhat twee and maudlin in a way that inspired The Independent to ponder on “the commodification of loneliness.” But bah to the sourpusses. Let the jovial mocking of the John Lewis Christmas ad begin, a tradition that is becoming as time-honored as the ad itself.
After trolling through the dozens of parodies already posted on YouTube, let’s start with the inevitable, given the looming Star Wars release, mash-up:
Also inevitable? The “John Lewis meets The Martian” take:
Continuing the movie there, there’s the less adorable dark humor of intercutting sniper film footage from Leon the Professional and American Sniper:
Naturally, there are horror parodies:
“Rear Moon” has great source material from the Hitchcock thriller, but muddled execution:
Also watch for the Rear Window reference in this take:
Capturing, and perhaps exceeding, the original in its heart-touching warmth and flutter, is the homage featuring “2 year old Charlie and his father David.” For what it lacks in slick production value it makes up for by punching you in the feels.
Also proving that Christmas campaigns don’t have to be big budget, a group of art students made this:
A Citroen fan made this ode to his favorite brand:
Viagra stars in this slightly pervy “I’ll Be Watching You” take:
A footy fan made Chelsea captain Jose Mourinho serve his one-match suspension on the moon:
And yes, someone called child protective services:
YouTuber Samlikesturtlez, meanwhile, is a bit crude in tone and execution:
The wags at HuffPost UK “fixed” the ad by reaching back into the nostalgia portion of the entire nation by mashing up the Man on the Moon with The Clangers, a 1960s and 70s cult favorite stop-motion BBC series about a family of mouse-like creatures that inhabited a small moon-like planet. (We’re still waiting for the Wallace and Gromit/Grand Day Out parody…)
And Welsh comedy rappers Goldie Looking Chain decided it was up to them to drop trousers and squat over the whole John Lewis affair. The group’s video mashed up a collection of numerous John Lewis Christmas advert themes from the past and with a soundtrack blasting the “tacky” consumer culture around Christmas.
Nobody likes to be make fun of but these parodies are one of the best things that could happen to John Lewis (yes, even #moonhitler). The obvious first benefit is that to get the parody you have to first have seen the original. The enjoyment of the parody is derivative of the enjoyment of the original advert, building a critical mass of positive brand association.
Next, the compounded positive experienced while enjoying each new parody reinforces the message of the original and John Lewis’ brand connection to that emotion. In fact, those making fun of Britain’s most soppy and earnest Christmas advert are themselves soppy and earnest.
Finally, each parody, while well done in its own right, pales in comparison to the original’s production value and creativity, which enforces with audiences the association of John Lewis with quality and inspiration.