The first advert I will be discussing in this report is “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2015 – #ManOnTheMoon”. This advert features a young girl, Lily, who sends a message to a lonely man on the moon on Christmas day so he knows someone on earth is thinking of him.
The second advert I will be discussing is “Flash Ah-ah Dog #FlashDog 2016 Advert” featuring a dog and his female owner singing about mud disappearing as a result of “Flash”, a cleaning product.
The John Lewis advert has a strong narrative and is set in a realistic world similar to ours, however it is anti-realist in one respect as it features a man living on the moon and demonstrates the ease a young girl has in sending a gift there via helium balloons. The storyline is linear and begins with the girl seeing the man on the moon through her telescope. The narrative follows her through her attempts to communicate with the man and ends with him receiving his gift.
John Lewis use the warming narrative to tug on the heartstrings of the viewer to support the charity Age UK, personified as the man on the moon.
Although the adverts are for very different products, they do share similarities such as their ability to be applied to Propp and Todorov’s theories
In 1946, Propp, a Russian scholar, created a narrative theory based on the functions and character types. His theory, at the time, applied to fairy takes however it can now be applied to all narratives. Propp recognised that all stories tend to have all, or at least most of the following character types;hero, villain, hero’s helper, doner, dispatcher, false hero, princess (prize) and father.
Similarly, Todorov, a philosopher in 1969, created a narrative theory that said each story follows a pattern and has five stages; equilibrium, disruption, recognition of the disruption, an attempt to repair the disruption, reinstated equilibrium.
John Lewis’ advert only features two characters and thus, in relation to Propp’s theory, Lily is the hero and the happiness of the man on the moon is the princess.
The Flash advert is a humorous and anti-realist and therefore contrasts the John Lewis advert. It features a singing dog (created using CGI and other special effects) and his owner parodies Queen’s “Flash” song to tell a story in a non-linear narrative. It begins with the dog asking “where the hell has all the mud gone?” and the advert then switches to his owner using Flash to remove the mud stains and the scene is captioned “Earlier” to inform the audience the scene featuring the owner is in the past.
Flash are offering the audience a solution to a problem, and therefore this advert follows aspects Todorov’s theory. The characters are brought back to equilibrium after the disruption (mud being all over the house) is recognised and solved by using the product. This advert encourages the audience to use Flash to bring them back to a sense of equilibrium in their every day lives.
The use of music in each advert is a similarity between them. Each piece of music is effective in conveying the intended meanings, although very different also. Flash’s use of the diegetic parody of Queen’s “Flash” song is effective as the lyrics “Where has all the mud gone?” are relevant in the promotion of the product and its qualities. Similarly, John Lewis uses “Half The World Away” by Aurora and its lyrics “you’re half the world away”, although non-diegetic, relate to the narrative of the man on the moon being far away.
John Lewis’ advert, although released just a year before Flash’s, appears more dated and contemporary. Flash’s advert uses CGI to create the singing dog, upbeat music and special effects such as when the owner turns into dramatic lighting being captioned as “earlier” to aid in the telling of the non-linear narrative and give the audience perspective in when her actions took place. These features make the advert appear more modern in comparison to John Lewis’.
John Lewis’ advert is significantly longer than Flash’s and promotes Age UK, therefore it is more focused on conveying a moral and message, whereas Flash’s intentions are simply to advertise and promote a single product.
John Lewis realised that online shopping is becoming increasingly popular and thus they pushed their advert and Age UK campaign to the public through social media, e-newsletters and website advertising. Their campaign was promoted and publicized on a number of platforms including Facebook and YouTube and, statistically, has a vast digital outreach and a raging success.
Retrospectively of this, John Lewis realised a heartstring-tugging advert such as this would encourage viewers to come back to their living rooms and enjoy time with their loved ones without the aid of a computer screen.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a description of the needs that encourage and motivate the behaviour of humans. Starting with the basics, Maslow proposed 5 different human needs, survival being the most basic. Physiological needs included food and shelter and these are followed by needs related to safety. Next are feelings of belonging and love. Fourth, the need to be respected and needs related to self esteem. The final need is the need for fulfilling one’s potential and self-actualisation. These needs are in a hierarchy and therefor, for example, the need for basics such as food will be sought before the need for self-actualisation.
John Lewis’ advert conforms to two aspects of Maslow’s hierachy of needs; Actualisation and Social. Within the actualisation need at the top of the hierarchy is a need for improving themselves or others and the advert encourages viewers to give to Age UK to improve other people and thus feel better about themselves. The advert also encourages acceptance of less fortunate people around Christmas and encourages the audience to care for others.
Young and Rubicam created a theory that looks at the brands people buy and how the buyers feel about them. Using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, they theorised that, depending on their core motivation, there are seven different types of people; The Explorer, The Aspirer, The Succeeder, The Reformer, The Mainstream, The Struggler and The Resigned.
The John Lewis advert appeals to Reformers because they pride themselves on being tolerant and make intellectual choices and therefore will be supportive of Age UK and John Lewis’ intentions.
Flash’s advert appeals to The Mainstreamers as they live “normal”, “everyday” lives and the product is an everyday household item.
The John Lewis advert has two aims; encouraging the viewer to purchase John Lewis products and encourage people to donate to Age UK. John Lewis successfully use a combination of music and warm narratives to appeal to a wide audience. Children will identify with Lily and adults and the elderly will either identify with or feel sympathetic towards the man on the moon.
The Flash advert successfully offers a solution to a common household problem and features humorous content and a parody of a well-known song that people will recognise and remember after the advert has played.
In conclusion, the use of music in these adverts is a common feature and they use their music effectively to create their desired effects and convey their messages and intentions to their audiences. They are both set in realist worlds that contain one unrealistic element, but the use of editing absorbs the audience and encourages the audience to abandon their disbelief and accept these elements as real for the duration of the adverts.