John Lewis issues lukewarm response to backlash over ‘playful’ new advert
John Lewis has defended its latest advert against claims of sexism and toxic masculinity – but failed to address anti-LGBT+ backlash
The retail giant’s latest advert – starring a young boy wearing his mother’s clothes, jewellery and colourful makeup as he causes chaos at home to Stevie Nick’s “Edge of Seventeen” – has become the target of backlash online.
Some have called the boy’s destructive performance an example of toxic masculinity and privilege.
But perhaps the loudest criticism has come from so-called “gender critical” campaigners accusing John Lewis of “sexualising” children and pushing a “woke” agenda. It will come as no surprise that an almost-identical advert, which featured a girl dancing to Elton John, drew no such criticism.
As the row continues, John Lewis has issued a statement sidestepping the anti-LGBT+ backlash and responding to the notion the boy is purposefully smashing up his home.
John Lewis said it believed in “children having fun and that’s why we chose this playful storyline for our latest advert”.
“It’s designed to show the young actor getting carried away with his dramatic performance,” John Lewis wrote. “He is not willfully damaging his home and is unaware of the unintentional consequences of his actions.”
The statement ended with a plug for John Lewis’ home insurance policy.
Many of you have contacted us regarding the thinking behind our latest Home Insurance advert. Please find our response below: pic.twitter.com/lbTqFTSry2
— John Lewis & Partners (@JohnLewisRetail) October 14, 2021
The fact that John Lewis needed to respond to critics at all was met with disappointment, but not surprise.
who's willing to take the bet that it's GCs targeting JL&P for "wokeness" and "promoting trans" when it's actually a celebration of gender nonconformism – that thing they all rabbit on constantly about being 'all for'? 🙄 https://t.co/uhKK2gEk9Y
— jesus pedro 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@ftmlorastyrell) October 15, 2021
— sirrontail (@sirrontail) October 14, 2021
Love that JL is having to explain adverts to the residents of normal Island.
Terfs: dress how you please
Also terfs: a boy in a dress?!! This is sexualising children. We will stand against gender norms by making sure they are enforced at all times. https://t.co/BKdsELBDIP
— Charlie C🚩 🇵🇸 (@CharlieXCaine) October 15, 2021
Imagine being pathetic enough to complain to a company because their advert features a boy in a dress, and imagine being dishonest enough to make out the complaint was about him ‘causing damage’ or whatever.
Still, I suppose it’s a change from attacking LGBTQ charities. https://t.co/wDfqcCS6KB
— Max Morgan 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@SpillerOfTea) October 15, 2021
Others applauded John Lewis for not “bowing down to TERF pressure” – an initialism that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”.
Well done John Lewis, always nice to see businesses not bowing down to TERF pressure https://t.co/rlQJDlzhk6
— Emily Shadows (@emily_shadows) October 14, 2021
Kudos to John Lewis and wtf is happening that being transphobic is more important than kids being allowed to play, do transphobes now want kids locked up? https://t.co/PZU3iLQaHR
— Kate – The Transchurian Candidate (@IChangedSex) October 15, 2021
Wow. Even this is an advert.
You’ve played everyone, saw trends and you knew people would be mentioning your brand so much
— What The Trans!? (@WhatTheTrans) October 15, 2021
Most people loved the heartfelt ad for highlighting the wonders of childhood and a young person’s playful nature. Even Stevie Nicks herself had a positive response to the clip, tweeting “love this”.
Many angry critics have failed to notice is that the new advert is actually a direct remake of John Lewis’s 2015 ad “Tiny Dancer”.
In the original, a little girl twirls around her home like a talented ballerina. But she’s so immersed in her performance that she’s oblivious to the chaos around her.
The 2015 advert landed without any backlash, and nobody suggested the original child was being “sexualised”. So, as one person put it, the furious commenters’ “real issue” with the new ad is the boy is “having fun in a dress”.
Related topics: John Lewis