John Lewis Christmas ad leaves dog lovers cold

Have you seen the epic John Lewis Christmas TV commercial?
The one with the haunting soundtrack (a cover of Your Song by Ellie Goulding).
It is very atmospheric, making you really feel warm and look forward to a present-filled, idyllic, family-based Christmas - right up to the moment when you see the family dog - a Deerhound - lying in the snow, outside a ramshackle, bare shed - ironically clad in festive fairy lights.
No door, no raised bed.
No basic comforts.
How very unChristmassy to glamorise neglect!
It makes keeping a dog outside in all weathers appear almost aspirational.
And who'd have thought this imagery would come from such a normally ethical, animal friendly company?
Why not have some homeless people in the snow outside begging and shivering, too?
A shivering cat locked out of his cat flap for fear of pulling down the decorations.
That final scene totally ruins the advert for dog lovers.
We're not stupid, we know it's not real.
Of course the dog doesn't live there really. That the snow is probably fake.
But the illusion makes putting a dog in an open-to-the-elements shed seem acceptable, even normal - in fact actually quite posh!
It validates something people should feel very, very uncomfortable about doing.
In the real world, if your neighbour kept their dog like this dog the RSPCA would be interested.
It would probably constitute a breach of the new Animal Welfare Act.
If you have a Husky, yes, it will cope with our winters - but I bet most of them given the choice would still prefer more shelter than an open shed gives.
And Deerhounds, too, are very hardy dogs, but the average member of the general public isn't going to differentiate that degree of subtlety of purpose between breeds - that for example their Greyhound might die if kept in similar conditions. It would certainly suffer considerably.
The two breeds look pretty similar. But most dogs just aren't equipped to thrive outside alone in a shed. For one thing, they're pack animals.
On YouTube the comments left after viewing the advert show we are very much divided into 'them' and 'us'. Dog lovers versus unbelievably stupid and rude people!
The stupid people keep contradicting themselves - both there and on Twitter.
They claim the advert influences no one, yet in the next breath they defend the practise of keeping dogs in sheds as if it is normal!
"Dogs have fur, they can live outside."
"My dog was kept in a shed all its life, it dealt with it."
"It's only an advert, it doesn't validate neglect. I thought it was okay to keep a dog in a shed before I saw the advert."
And no, John Lewis spin doctors, it's not okay to depict a dog living in a shed as aspirational because the owner of that dog thinks it's okay - because she keeps her dogs outside all year around!
Didn't you think of asking Dogs Trust or the RSPCA for their opinion?
And the vet you booked may have been happy that there was no suffering.... on the set of this advert!
What about when people try this at home? Are you able to find some decent vets who will advocate that dogs generally thrive outside in the snow, in sheds with no doors, no raised beds etc?
Claiming in your letters to complaining customers that you thought this one through and still decided to go ahead makes this a whole lot worse.
If you realised this advert would cause dog lovers to get upset - why did you go ahead with it?
There are 10.5 million dogs in Britain according to Bristol University's latest figures. And another poll suggested that 80% of the population actively like dogs, even if they don't own one.
It's rather a large faction to have knowingly alienated.
I think John Lewis should re-edit.
Give this advert a happy ending.
Bring the poor Deerhound into the house, even if he's a show dog unused to the privilege of being a pet, let it have a family Christmas, too.
Allow the ghosts of Xmas adverts past, present and future do their best on your wonky Christmas spirit and let the no-so-tiny dog have a proper Christmas, too.
Either that or donate a shed load (that 's' word shed keeps coming up) of money to a doggie charity pretty promptly to prove you do still care about dogs and the damage this ill-thought out advert is doing!
The singer Ellie Goulding said last night on Twitter that she is proud of the advert and that us dog lovers are all being "stupid".
A number of her followers went on to defend the practise of keeping dogs in sheds in an almost perfect illustration of why this advert is such bad news.
Can't John Lewis see the damage this advert is doing?
On YouTube someone had left a very touching comment.
The lady had rescued a dog (via the RSPCA) who had been kept in a shed very similar to the one used in the John Lewis commercial. Her poor dog needs to be on medication for the rest of its life to recover from the damage caused by living outside in all elements.
Traditionally John Lewis was always the most dog-friendly of stores, isn't it time they put this right and stopped sending out standard letters to their core customers that just further grate and prove they have still not grasped the point and aren't taking this seriously.
Perhaps Ellie might have a change of heart and re-record Your Song with the following lyric...
"Isn't it funny,
this feeling inside...
our dog who loved us,
was so cold that it died."

If you dislike this advert you can make your feelings known via a petition:
and a dedicated facebook page:

On Twitter: @elliegoulding @johnlewisretail

To complain to the Advertising Standards Association click here

To complain in other ways:
John Lewis
Helen Dickinson, Head of Press and PR
Tel: 020 7592 6222
Louise Cooper, Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital and Branch PR
Tel: 020 7592 6223

The agency who made the advert is -
on Twitter ironically: @AandE

To email direct to John Lewis click here 

A dog is for life - not just for leaving in a shed for Christmas


SimJaTa said…
Will do. One of our members at Woof Beginnings highlighted this earlier, after she had emailed her complaint.

Becca said…
I've contacted them on Twitter as well @johnlewisretail.

I've tweeted them saying I was upset by it :(
eileen jones said…
As one of the many animal rescues involved in saving dogs living in sheds, kennels and outhouses how can this be acceptable. Yes it is an advert but to use the image of a dog left out in the cold in dreadful weather conditions is beggars belief.

How can this be thought to be acceptable. John Lewis should do right by all those poor animals that will spend the winter living in these type of conditions and pull the advert and remove the last part.
Phone numbers
John Lewis
Helen Dickinson, Head of Press and PR
Tel: 020 7592 6222
Louise Cooper, Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital & Branch PR
Tel: 020 7592 6223

Andrew Moys, Director of Communications haven't got a number for him.

I rang their customer services number who said I would have to write in so rang the above number and spoke to Louise who will ask someone from Customer services to ring me. Might be helpful if they had a few more calls sp they appreciate the strength of feeling form the animal loving community.
Anonymous said…
a petition is now online...
to stop the advert
Becca said…
The agency who made the advert is - I've dropped them a line to tell them what I think.
Lost and Fond said…
The ad agency who created the commercial is also on Twitter
Even after several days I still can't believe that NO-ONE at John Lewis or the ad agency felt this shot was wrong, sent out the wrong message and would alienate responsible dog owners.

Why couldn't the dog have been stretched out indoors in the warmth, surrounded by his loving family? Just because he's a Deerhound designed to cope with the cold doesn't mean it's right for him to be outside alone.
Anonymous said…
The other things people can do is contact/place complaints at the TV channels (ITV, C4, Sky, C5 ect), Radio stations, keep the noise going over all the social websites. Contact all animal charities/welfare groups.
Peggy Frezon said…
Excellent post. Not only is the dog exposed to the elements, but also how can a family give their pet adequate time, love and attention if the dog lives outside all the time?
Anonymous said…
The ad is mentioned here:

Why not post comments with the newspaper of John Lewis' core customers. ;-)
Anonymous said…
Ellie Goulding has surprised me in all this. I have always thought she has a lovely singing voice, and enjoyed hearing an interview recently, when I came to the conclusion she was a genuinely nice person.

Her comments on this have changed my opinion, and I won't buy any more of her music!

I have also complained to John Lewis.
Anonymous said…
I bet John Lewis love all the free publicity. Would say more but I have to go and see to my dogs in their outside kennels...
Anonymous said…
I am totall disgusted with John Lewis' advert as it gives the wrong image as to the welfare of dogs.
Please have it removed.

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