Score another point for not having a TV at this time of year. It saves me from being force-fed heaped spoons of syrup, at least if the John Lewis Christmas ad is the benchmark for this year’s round of heartwarming festive advertising. I trotted on over to see it on YouTube, mainly so I could then watch the @WaterstonesOxfordSt remake, which is much better. I hear that Sainsbury’s have gone a step further and made a whole film that’s a real tear-jerker, so I’m not even bothering with that one. Frankly, I’m more than a little freaked out when an extended advert gets its own trailer.
I deeply and bitterly resent the cheaply exploitative emotional blackmail of advertising. I know it’s unpopular to express anything except the warm fuzzies around Christmas related stuff, but whatever they say, brands are not participative. John Lewis aren’t trying to create an emotional attachment between us so they can nip round for a mug of hot chocolate with a marshmallow while we all watch It’s a Wonderful Life in our matching knitted sweaters. No, they are in fact hoping to warm their grubby paws on the heat from a thousand cash registers going ker-ching. That’s fine, they’re a bloody great chain and they exist to make money by flogging me stuff, and I’d in fact be much more amenable to advertising that said as much.
By and large, any organization or group that is trying to appeal based solely on an emotional level is trying to pull a fast one. It’s sleight of hand, an attempt to make emotion cloud reasoned judgment and that is not going to be for my benefit. Charities play on sympathy all the time, and would surely claim it’s for the benefit of others, but you know what? Ask. Give me the facts. Present a valid argument. Leading people by emotion, and accustoming them to being led by emotion is exactly why the Athenians feared demagoguery, why charismatic speakers can sway a crowd and why unimportant class, ethnic or religious differences can be manipulated into deep divides. People should be encouraged to think. Thinking is so important.
Guess what has had the most influence on my choice of supermarkets recently? Car parking. I prefer Waitrose (more space, fewer people, plenty of tills) but the car park at my nearest Waitrose is a clusterfuck. The car park at the new Sainsbos in Bicester, though, is free, spacious and easy to navigate and there are little lights above each space, green for empty, red for full. One quick glance down the row of parking bays and you know if there’s a space or not.
This makes me think that advertisers know jack.