John Lewis under fire

As John Lewis retail find the time to celebrate the advert's soundtrack reaching number one they avoid dealing with the growing complaints about the advert's content which glamourises and normalises neglect.

Katey Price has made a very good film that you may want to watch...

Julie at DogCast radio (who started the facebook campaign)  has been ringing the PR department all morning...
"I have phone the PR dept at John Lewis every 20 mins this morning and the person I am after is always in  a meeting/out of  the office/ etc. She has emailed me but is not responding to the key question which is whether they will screen the scenes with the dog in the kennel again. It feels as if they are trying to pull the wool over our eyes, and they are telling different people different things. This is where the power of Facebook & Twitter come in – if we all keep communicating JL loses the ability to bluff and fob us. Can I make a plea to people to keep supporting the campaign – via FB, Twitter, other dog forums and so on. Dog lovers have done a wonderful job sending John Lewis a strong message, but unfortunately it seems JL is trying to brush us off. "

I have sent the following questions to the John Lewis press office this morning at 11.09, no response so far.
Can I have answers from you or your press office on the following? If it is ‘no comment’ we will run with that if necessary.
  1. Has John Lewis taken any action in the light of protests from dog owners and dog welfare groups?
  2. Was the switch to the 30 second adverts planned before the protests?
  3. What is John Lewis's reaction to the statement issued by Dogs Trust - the Britain's largest dog charity?
  4. Disgruntled John Lewis customers grouping on facebook have been comparing stock responses from John Lewis and it would seem they feel you still do not grasp the point that while there was obviously no neglect on set, to glamourise or even normalise the keeping of dogs in such poor conditions sets back animal welfare 50 years. It may be true that the Deerhound is one of a very few breeds hardy enough to survive poor conditions without adequate housing, it is a very rare breed. Should someone try to keep an average dog in such conditions the RSPCA would probably see this as a breach of the Animal Welfare Act and suffering would result. Do you accept that most dogs should not be kept alone and outside in open sheds?
  5. Will this advert, that makes neglect aspirational, still run this weekend to massive TV audiences even though the potential damage it does has now been pointed out to you? 
  6. As one in four homes contain a dog is it sensible to alienate such a huge segment of your customer base? 

 Just got back the exact same response as everyone else have got back... get the feeling they've got their fingers in their ears and the blindfolds on...

Hi Beverley

Thanks very much for your email.

We had always planned to introduce 30-second versions of the ad at this stage in the campaign. The 30-second ad that will launch tomorrow does not feature the dog. During the process of editing shorter ads, we will always choose the scenes which work best. It's apparent that some people don't like the scene with the dog and we have other scenes that we shot but haven't used yet.

We've taken the views of dog owners and dog welfare groups into consideration when editing our 30-second versions.  

The 60-second ad (which will have completed the majority of its scheduled run by the end of the weekend) is the original ad that features the dog. Other versions of the 30-second ad are yet to be finalised, as is normal practice in an ad campaign of this length.

Best wishes

Louise Cooper
Senior Manager, Corporate, Digital & Branch PR
John Lewis

Carolyn Menteith has just sent the following complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority...

"Having talked to a solicitor who is an expert in this field, it seems to me that there would to be little doubt that keeping a dog in the conditions that, on balance, this advert gives the impression is acceptable, would arguably be in breach of animal welfare legislation (Animal Welfare Act 2006). DEFRA's guidelines on this act state that owners have a duty of care and that includes that duty of care includes that a dog be kept in a suitable environment free from discomfort or distress. The inference from this advert could therefore constitute an illegality.

The dog is shown in a kennel which is totally inappropriately (old wooden kennel far too small for a dog of his size and type - even if you do accept that some dogs can live outside, which in a snow storm is highly debatable - with wet bedding, electric cables within the dog's reach and no adequate shelter), and alone with no human or canine company. While the dog used in the advert was obviously well looked after, and is of a breed who, historically, was known for being hardy, I do not think that average viewer would see the Deerhound used as anything other than 'just a dog' and so little different from their own pets.

It could certainly be argued that giving the public the impression that this would be an acceptable way to keep a dog (and all inference does indicate that this is meant to be 'the dog's home' (ie the decorations, and the fact the boy very obviously waves the dog goodbye- so the inference is he is not welcome in the house), could incite an illegal act.

I hope you take this complaint very seriously and act on it promptly as this advert is continuing to be shown in high profile slots and is scheduled to run this weekend, during X Factor (so in one of the highest viewed slots of the year) so it will be seen by people who may be dog owners or potential dog owners but who have little knowledge of animal husbandry and would expect a company such as John Lewis to be showing a responsible message.

I know several animal welfare organisations have also spoken out on this advert, and so I hope it can be replaced with one of John Lewis's other adverts from this campaign which I am told has an alternative ending."

Please scroll down and read the previous blogs for all the background and how to complain and follow this issue on the facebook page, too.



Anonymous said…
Simon Cowell we all know it a animal lover, any possibility someone be able to contact his P.A, management, friends etc as he has the influence at ITV to possibly help pull the advert from being shown during X-Factor.

Could be a start by contacting Sinitta one of Simon’s long time friends on twitter alerting her to the cause, she also has a website.
Anonymous said…
I've watched the Ad over & over & cannot see why it should cause such outrage.
At this very moment I have 4 Dogs outside ,with a kennel there if they choose to use it.
Many of us use this routine during the Day.
Do people honestly think the Great British public will see the ad & shove Fido out into the snow ?
Can somebody point me in the direction of a Facebook group that promotes rational thinking.
Beverley Cuddy said…
Please read the previous blogs for what is wrong if you are struggling to comprehend!

Presenting keeping a dog outside without adequate shelter in an aspirational context is in essence the problem. It sets a very bad example.

It encourages the normalisation of people who do leave their dog alone in a rickety shed.

If you left your dogs outside all weathers all day without adequate housing you'd be getting a call from the RSPCA.
Anonymous said…
complete & utter trip.
Not everyone is media led, most know the right & wrongs of keeping Dogs & do NOT need censorship.
aren't there any real campaigns that need all this hype ?
How about a save the Turkeys campaign

I'm off to order a new magazine subscription, you won't see my money again.
Michelle said…
Great job Beverley,Julie,Carolyn & all!
Let's keep the pressure on until John Lewis start dealing with this issue responsibly, instead of just trying to fob us off!
RubyScrumptious Chihuahua & Toydog Meetups.
Educating toydog owners everywhere!
Anonymous said…
While I don't think they were deliberately trying to promote keeping a dog outside, it was incredibly midguided on their part - a wonderful family christmas with the dog not part of it, but decoration will make it better.
The trouble is that people, however intelligent we would like to think, take things on face value. How many topics over the past year have been down to misinformation.
I knew someone who had been told that greyhounds HAD to be kept outside in a kennel. Just last night on tv was a staffie owner who had no idea that there were so many of them and wanted to breed from theirs.
The RSPCA will not get involved if there is no good pr for them.
Anonymous said…
I actually have found a dog on a dog forum I use, who has been affected by this video. The woman's Dad now believes there's no reason why his daughters Deerhound cannot stay outside as the 'one on the advert looks fine'. She is not able to go and visit him now, as she won't leave her dog outside as he is not used to it, especially not this winter!
Anonymous said…
I think its great they are at leats aware of what we are trying to do, but putting it on during X Factor is just trying to cause more arguments it seems!

I don't have a problem with outside dogs if that's what people want to do, but they must have an appropriate kennel!

I don't see why they didn't just put the dog in a cosy basket by the fire, then let the little boy hang the stocking above that. It just seems so odd why they didn't do that in the first place!
Carolyn said…
Even more annoyed this morning. The Telegraph have run with the story this morning - but have picked it up from the Shropshire press so are saying that John Lewis have abandoned the ending due to pressure.

JL are looking like the good guys who listened to customer complaints - when we know that this isn't the case yet.
Beverley Cuddy said…
Thanks for the heads up Carolyn, stopped off and bought the physical paper on my way back from school drop and it didn't make the paper - which is good and bad. In some ways having it splashed that John Lewis acknowledge the advert is bad would put an arm up their back re this weekend's showing of what now is acknowledged to be a tarnished advert.

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