It has been attacked like everything from a crass cultural conference to a treatise on sexism. John Lewis’s latest home insurance ad, in which a young boy lashes out around his house over a Stevie Nicks song while wearing a dress, became the latest front in a seemingly endless culture war this month- this.
Now it has been pulled – not because of sensitivities it might have offended, but because regulators feared it could mislead people into believing that the advertised insurance policy would cover a child who destroys the House.
It first took place on October 11 and showed a young boy in his mother’s makeup, dress, jewelry and heels, walking around his house, smearing paint on the walls, giving kicking lamps, throwing an umbrella at a vase, spilling a glass and throwing glitter in the air.
Viewers were concerned about a series of advertising issues. One Telegraph writer went so far as to say that the 60-second ad “represented a terrifying snapshot of everything that’s wrong with Britain right now.”
Judith Woods suggested it was “dreamed of by Generation Rent, which has no idea – no concept – of how much blood, sweat and toil adults put into buying a house and making it nice.”
A writer for the Daily Mail called it a “stupidly provocative and divisive advertisement” which failed to achieve its goal and instead indulged in “broad sexist stereotypes”.
Writing on Twitter, Isabel Oakeshott also complained that the portrayal of a boy in a robe meant the department store was guilty of giving “rude cultural lectures.”
Another viewer said that “the young boy being the center of attention for trashing everything while his sister obediently sits down and paints in a corner is sexism encapsulated in sixty seconds.”
But the problem with the “Let Life Happen” home insurance ad was the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) finding that it could mislead consumers.
John Lewis later said his accidental damage coverage was available as an addition to his new home insurance product and only covered accidental and unintentional damage.
“You may have seen our ‘Let Life Happen’ ad for our new home insurance offering, which ran from October 11-27, 2021,” the retailer said. “This ad has been withdrawn because the Financial Conduct Authority considers the content to be potentially misleading and could cause customers to be confused about John Lewis’s new home insurance offering. It was absolutely never our intention.
“John Lewis’s ‘Let Life Happen’ home insurance ad was created to show a cheerful portrayal of a young actor getting carried away by his performance, oblivious to the unintended consequences of his actions.”
He adds: “We have decided to contact each customer who purchased our new home insurance coverage from October 11 to 31 to confirm that they understood these points and that they are satisfied with their purchase.
An FCA spokesperson said, “The marketing of financial services companies must be clear, fair and not misleading.