Now and again, an advertisement comes along that tells a magical tale. Years ago, a short ad which aired during the Super Bowl featured a cancer patient whose husband supports her while a song capturing the emotion of such a connection plays (watch it here). The Coca-Cola ad featuring Pittsburgh Steeler Joe Greene tossing his jersey to a hero-worshipping boy made an impact in 1979 (watch it here).
Leave it to the ingenious Elton John (The Diving Board, Made in England, The Union) to create such an ad. With the John Lewis ad agency, he’s made an indelible Christmas advertisement for his final Yellow Brick Road tour which at once combines virtues with the commercialism of Christmas.
Typical of Elton John, whose triumphant, inspiring life story was the subject of one of my first chosen writing assignments, the video (watch the ad by clicking on the image at left) bucks the status quo. Elton John’s video glorifies the life-changing power of a material possession as a Christmas present. Indeed, the advertisement depicts the bestowing of a gift of extravagance. The gift, shown as both the climax and origin of an unforgettable story and larger than life career, nested in the music of one of Elton John’s most haunting and romantic songs, is exactly the type of Christmas present the anti-capitalist preachers denounce and rail against every holiday season.
Elton John’s ad goes deeper than superficial notions of commercialism. In powerful sound, melody and motion pictures, the ad dramatizes virtues such as pride and productiveness and examines introspection, proper parenting and the selfish pursuit of happiness. That Elton John’s promotional clip also echoes the season’s uniquely solitary moments, when the person who values the wholeness of a lifetime tends to ponder the memory and legacy of loved ones who are gone, speaks to its stark emotional power.
As Elton John embarks on his farewell tour, his Christmas-themed ad depicts the reflection, contemplation and thought about the meaning, value and intimacy of a life well lived and that which makes it possible … including the sacred commitment to achieving one’s values here on earth which, thanks only to capitalism, can culminate in the giving of something manmade, wanted and wonderful.