The John Lewis Christmas ad has become “a thing”. People hang out for it and get excited about it. We can all expect to see cute animals, a small child, and a few snowflakes. This year’s Christmas ad has all of those things. The thing I wasn’t expecting to see, though, was the sexual awakening of a penguin.
Has anyone else really thought about this ad in depth? Because I have. I’ve only seen it 30,000 times in the last week, so it’s not at all surprising. Let me break this down.
A small boy has a penguin friend. They hang out and play together throughout the year. As winter and the Christmas season approaches the penguin reaches sexual maturity. A kind of penguin puberty, if you will. His need for some penguin lovin’ escalates to the point where he can’t even enjoy a suspiciously empty Christmas time bus journey in central London without getting his jollies by watching an old couple canoodling in the snow. BTW, don’t canoodle in the frigging snow, especially if you’re old. You’ll catch hypothermia, be hospitalised and mess up everyone’s Christmas. Or you’ll die. But back to the penguin.
The kid starts to pick up on Monty the penguin’s sexy time signals. He begins to appreciate that sometimes the company of a small boy just isn’t enough when you’re alone in the dark watching movies (he’s not a penguin pervert, after all). So he does the obvious thing. What’s that? Is it like when Ross in Friends gave Marcel the monkey to the zoo after he starts humping everything in sight, so that he can be socialised with his own species and cared for professionally? No. Does he send Monty back to the Antarctic wild so he can partake in the majestic icy mating ritual himself and listen to the other penguins talk about the time they met Morgan Freeman? No.
The kid opts for the third most obvious thing. He buys him a mail order bride. Yup. Probably from one of those dodgy websites – “raunchy penguins are waiting for you”. That type of thing. Anyway, the kid makes Miss Penguin hide in a box on Christmas morning, and when Monty comes down the stairs into the living room he knows something’s up. He’s got himself a woman, under the tree and ready for unwrapping. That’s not suggestive at all. In their first meeting it is indicated that Monty is rather pleased with his escort.
It’s only then that we learn that it’s not a real penguin. GASP. Oh, god, it’s The Crying Game all over, who can keep up with these radical plot twists? Nope, Monty and his missus are merely stuffed toys. The small boy has used the power of imagination to create this whole sordid tale. He is, quite literally, the Master Manipulator of the Penguin Sex. The camera wisely cuts away before we see what happens next, and if Monty’s carnal urges are finally sated. Well, played, John Lewis, well played. Christmas always did need more penguin lovin’, we just didn’t know it.