Commercial featuring a boy in a dress and makeup receives online backlash and retailer forced to respond
The insurance commercial, from retailer John Lewis, features a young boy wearing makeup, jewellery, heels, and a dress.
The light-hearted (and frankly adorable) advert shows the young lad freely dancing around the house in a dress, causing a total mess of destruction as he goes, while Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen plays in the background.
Claire Pointon, customer director for John Lewis, said in a statement: “We wanted to inject joy, freedom and humor into this campaign”.
The commercial, clearly intended to be a sweet story of a boy in a dress along with a jovial nod to how literally all children can be messy, ends with the caption “Let Life Happen.”
“The John Lewis advert of a young boy being the centre of attention for trashing everything while his sister obediently sits and paints in a corner is sexism encapsulated in 60 seconds”.
“The new #johnlewis home insurance ad makes me cringe every time I see it, it is disgraceful to be pushing a trans agenda using a young boy.”
The new #johnlewis home insurance ad makes me cringe every time I see it, it is disgraceful to be pushing a trans agenda using a young boy.— Mr Anderson (@Alfgar5634) October 14, 2021
Offended viewers accuse John Lewis of 'sexism, and gender ideology' in new home insurance advert https://t.co/tx7qldPhfu
The John Lewis advert of a young boy being the centre of attention for trashing everything while his sister obediently sits and paints in a corner is sexism encapsulated in sixty seconds— Frances Weetman (@francesweetman) October 13, 2021
It wasn’t all negative press though as Stevie Nicks, whose song is featured in the commercial, saw the lighter side of things, sharing the video to her feed, captioned: “Love this!”
The problem we have here is that, whilst there are points to be made about the fact that, in this instance, it was a boy causing all the mess, while his tidy, well-behaved sister looks on (they did so a similar concept with a little girl to the track ‘Tiny Dancer’ years prior) – a lot of what viewers were actually pissed off about was seeing a boy dancing in a dress.
Very few people bothered to point out that, for some bizarre reason, unlike any parent we’ve ever known, the mother did literally NOTHING to stop the kid smearing paint over the wall, instead just sitting there looking dumbfounded by the whole experience.
Why did she do that? Well, because it’s NOT *clap* REAL *clap* LIFE *clap* – and many users, unable to take a scripted non-reality lightly, were just using their arguments to cover up that what actually made them uncomfortable was seeing a boy be allowed to wear a dress and be happy.
The extent of online backlash to the advert was such that the retailer was forced to issue a statement (scroll down), saying:
“At John Lewis, we believe in children having fun and that’s why we chose this playful storyline for our latest advert,” they wrote in a statement. “It’s designed to show the young actor getting carried away with his dramatic performance. He is not wilfully damaging his home and is unaware of the unintentional consequences of his actions.”
The statement also points out that their Accidental Damage Coverage would actually cover the type of damage the
actor child in the completely fictitious video caused.
Fortunately some users were less triggered by the completely fictional transaction, saying things like:
“It’s not real life – goodness me, who hasn’t had a bit of paint smeared on a wall? My cousin’s son tipped a can of emulsion over his head when she went out of the room! It’s showing you the sorts of things that happen by accident in a made up film.”
With another user saying: “Sorry that in 2021 bigots still get angry about a boy wearing a dress.”
Take a look at the commercial below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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
It’s not real life – goodness me, who hasn’t had a bit of paint smeared on a wall? My cousin’s son tipped a can of emulsion over his head when she went out of the room! It’s showing you the sorts of things that happen by accident in a made up film— Sarah (@piedwarbler1) October 15, 2021
They are still banging on about that John Lewis advert like it’s a piece of documentary on real life.— 𝚛 𝚒 𝚌 🏳️🌈 (@ricardo_jpl) October 16, 2021
Conjecturing on the mental health of a CHARACTER played by a child actor.
Worrying about the criminal future this FICTIONAL character might have.
These people are not ok. pic.twitter.com/1cWlQVHBjo
I like the @JohnLewisRetail advert. Firstly, it’s not real life, it’s an advert. Secondly, I think it shows a little lad expressing himself, risking approbation, against the status quo, while John Lewis have his back. So, I think it’s trying to say, life’s for living 😊👏🏼— Sarah (@piedwarbler1) October 13, 2021
Do people know that adverts aren’t real life? Nobody from John Lewis followed a real kid around a real house as they trashed it. Its make believe. Not real. Pretend.— Vic (@vicakie) October 15, 2021