Monday, 6 Dec 2021

John Lewis is forced to pull insurance advert featuring boy in a dress

John Lewis is forced to pull its ‘woke’ home insurance advert featuring boy in a dress rampaging around his home after watchdog said it was ‘misleading and confusing’

  • John Lewis’ ‘Let Life Happen’ advertising campaign has been withdrawn
  • The television advert first ran on October 11 and showed a boy dressed as a girl
  • He danced around his home while leaving a trail of destruction behind him
  • The advert was previously criticised for being ‘sexist’ as his mother did nothing 

John Lewis has pulled its ‘woke’ home insurance advert starring a boy in a dress rampaging around his home after the financial watchdog found it was ‘misleading and confusing’.

The department store’s ‘Let Life Happen’ campaign for its home contents insurance first ran on October 11 and starred a young boy dressed in his mother’s make-up, dress, jewellery and heels.

The young boy danced around his home smearing paint on the walls, kicking shoes at lamps, throwing an umbrella at a vase, spilling a glass and throwing glitter.

But it has since been withdrawn because the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) considered the content to be potentially misleading and said it could confuse customers, John Lewis tweeted on Wednesday.

It clarified that its accidental damage cover was available as an add-on to John Lewis’s new home contents insurance product and only covered accidental, not deliberate, damage. 

John Lewis’ ‘Let Life Happen’ campaign for its home contents insurance first ran on October 11 and starred a young boy dressed in his mother’s make-up, dress, jewellery and heels

In a statement John Lewis revealed it had pulled the advertisement because the financial watchdog accused it of being misleading

The retailer said in a statement: ‘You may have seen our ‘Let Life Happen’ advert for our new home contents insurance offering, which ran between 11 and 27 October 2021.

‘This advert has been withdrawn because the Financial Conduct Authority considers the content to be potentially misleading and could cause customers to be confused about John Lewis’s new home contents insurance offering.

‘This was absolutely never our intention.

‘The ‘Let Life Happen’ John Lewis home insurance advert was created to show a joyful depiction of a young actor getting carried away with his performance, oblivious of the unintentional consequences of his actions.

‘We would like to clarify that accidental damage cover is available as an add-on to John Lewis’s new home contents insurance product and only covers accidental (not deliberate) damage.

‘We have decided to contact every customer who purchased our new home contents insurance cover from 11 October to 31 October to confirm they understood these points and are happy with their purchase.’

An FCA spokesman said: ‘Financial services firms’ marketing must be clear, fair and not misleading.’

John Lewis was hit with allegations of sexism, gender ideology and patriarchy following the release of the advert

The boy smashes photo frames as he makes his way downstairs to continue the carnage shown throughout the advert

The ad had already caused controversy before the FCA’s decision, with some accusing it of ‘agenda-pushing’ and sexism and others saying it depicted ‘male entitlement’ and ‘gender extremism’.

One user said: ‘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.’ 

Another added: ‘The pouting and gestures are entirely reminiscent of sexualised imagery of women across adverts/music videos etc.

‘They aren’t what children automatically do when they’re just dancing and expressing themselves.’ 

A John Lewis spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Our advert is a dramatic, fictional story showing our main character getting carried away and dancing to his favourite song – unaware of the unintentional consequences of his actions and does not show wilful damage. 

A glass of liquid is spilled onto a kitchen surface and laptop as the boy makes his way through to a dining room, where the advert ends with him throwing glitter

‘If customers have Accidental Damage Cover with our Home Insurance, this would cover a range of major and minor home disasters – which includes unintentional breakages caused by children in the family.

‘We carried out customer research on the advert prior to its launch and this was well received.

‘We featured a young girl in our Tiny Dancer home insurance advert in 2015, so chose a young male actor for this advert.’

The advert also shows the boy picking up an umbrella and hurling it at an ornament while Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen plays in the background.

Twitter users have accused the retail giants of sexism after the boy caused carnage throughout the house

Others accused John Lewis of producing an advert ‘entirely reminiscent of sexualised imagery of woman

One user said the advert was ‘narcisstic, destructive, aggressive, and misogynist’

The advert also shows the boy picking up an umbrella and hurling it at an ornament while Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen plays in the background. Nick tweeted this in support of the ad

Twitter users said the advert showed a child ‘imitating heightened and sexualised ‘feminine’ postures and gestures’

Dancing and posing throughout, the spectacled boy then throws paint on the floor and, with his fingertips covered, then rubs it over his cheeks. 

The boy then spins and sways his way into the kitchen, leaving painted handprints on the way and knocking over a glass of liquid before throwing glitter around the room while standing on top of a dining room table.

The advert, marketing John Lewis home insurance, ends with the boy jumping on a sofa looking towards the camera while another lamp is seen falling to the floor behind him.

However, John Lewis was hit with allegations of sexism, agenda pushing, appropriating trans culture and sexualising children. 

Not all users were tweeting allegations, though, with some taking to the social media platform to defend the advert

The retail giant was also accused of encouraging male entitlement and patriarchy due to a young girl and older adult woman appearing to do little to stop the chaos. 

Another Twitter user said: ‘Opinions on the John Lewis home insurance ‘Let life happen’ advert? I saw sexualisation of a male child imitating OTT feminised posturing, who was also acting like a bully and vandal…

‘And the mum and sister just let it happen? Parallels to real life are shrieking at me!’

Another tweet said: ‘Watched the John Lewis advert that people are talking about. Looks like male entitlement in a dress and make-up to me. We’ve been here before, haven’t we?’ 

In a blurb for the advert, John Lewis says ‘life is easier when you don’t have any worries’, before providing a link to its home insurance website.  

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