All other festivities are out of the way, no one can say it's too early for Christmas now. So it's nigh time for the TV adverts to come out in full force, to instill us with festive spirits and warm hearts. Some companies may go for the comedy factor, some will attempt to reduce us to blubbering, sentimental wrecks. Iceland will probably just parade out a selection of weird frozen desserts that cost £1. But here's John Lewis' offering, The Bear & The Hare.
Yes, it's the lovely, animated story of a bear and a hare who are the best of buds, but winter is coming, so Bear needs to hibernate, you know, to survive. This leaves Hare feeling very sad, because Bear never gets to see the wonder of Christmas. So, in John Lewis' own words, "This year Hare has a brilliant idea".
So while the other woodland animals set about decorating a gigantic tree (the birds do most of the work), Hare leaves a present at the mouth of Bear's cave, which turns out to be an alarm clock set for Christmas morning. So Bear wakes up, takes a wander, and discovers the magic of Christmas. How lovely, now you want to shop at John Lewis. Except now I know that John Lewis are advocated for animal cruelty.
You see, as much as this ad wants you to think that Bear and Hare are best buds, surely Hare would be more concerned with his friend's survival during the harsh winter months. Sure, Bear might like to see the wonder that is Christmas Day, but it happens during a time that he will likely freeze to death, which is why he is naturally hibernating. But Hare doesn't care about that, he leaves an intricately wrapped (for a hare) clock that will ring incessantly on Christmas morning, which will not only rouse Bear from his life-saving slumber, but force him to fumble about with the wrapping paper with his big bear paws and then figure out how to switch the damn thing off. He probably only left the cave to give Hare a slap and tell him to never do that again, but then he's distracted by the wonder of Christmas, so it's alright really. He can probably just make a fur coat out of the small rodents that he'll eat for a snack during his rude awakening. Not that there are many small rodents around, he probably ate most of them already. You know what? Let's not talk about the plot anymore. It's just not right.
So let's look at the ad itself. It certainly looks very nice. The animation is top notch, and despite there being a few different styles thrown in, it all works well together. The visuals do very well to invoke the spirit of Christmas, even though the delivery of the message is a bit... weird. I know John Lewis can do a lot more human stuff, their 2011 offering was fantastic, and last year's made me feel warm and fuzzy, even with the leading snowman. This just seems a bit lacklustre. A grandiose execution of a not-so-great idea. Even the soundtrack is a bit off. The choice of Somewhere Only We Go is a great fit, but why is Lily Allen singing it? Her distinct accent just isn't a good fit for the song, and certainly doesn't do much to make me feel Christmassy.
The Bear & The Hare is a good offering from John Lewis, at least on the surface. It looks fantastic, and carries the "joy of giving" theme that they've upheld over the last few years, but it just pales in comparison to their previous Christmas ads. The Bear & The Hare is a good attempt, but it probably won't be the best Christmas ad we'll see this year, especially now the Toys 'R' Us theme is back where it belongs.
My rating: 3/5