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Regular news and insight from our many poets, writers, educators and facilitators

28 November 2023

Posted by Harley Truslove


Today we began the session by writing about our week like it was an Amazon review. In order to get into the mood we read some reviews for both ‘BIC pens for women’ and the picture book ‘Where is Baby’s Belly Button?’. Some of our check-ins included:

  • 3*, a disappointing spoon but the squirrels loved it

  • 4*, due to being a broken record

  • 1*, give me my money back or else!

Then, moving onto the main part of the session, we began to discuss the sort of things which really get us in the Christmas spirit such as seeing the decorations go up on the highstreet and watching Christmas movies. We moved onto a staple of the season for many people: the John Lewis Christmas advert, and discussed the aspects which make it up:

  • A protagonist with a problem

  • A surreal character/sidekick (often alliterative as this helps sell)

  • A story where they solve the issue

  • A slowed down song

The group was then challenged to write their own John Lewis advert. We began by thinking about what would make a good main character with a problem:

  • A boy who loses his teddy bear while outside one day

  • A stray cat looking in at all the domesticated pets being spoiled by their owners

  • A reindeer who is too small to help pull Santa’s sleigh

  • A mum who is rushed off her feet and not helped by her family at Christmastime

  • A younger sibling who wants the attention of their older sibling who is now ‘too cool’ to spend time with them

And the surreal character:

  • SIr Nelson the Nutcracker, who comes from the North Pole to help find shoes for a boy who wants to dance ballet

  • John Bigfoot who is too shy to come out from his forest home until a new friend lures him out with a trail of mince pies

  • A Christmas fairy from the top of the tree who sprinkles magic around the house

  • A magical cloud who brings colour out in a black and white world for a little girl who likes to draw

  • The Grog

We then had a go at storyboarding a complete advert idea in six images while listening to appropriately whimsical music, as if we were going to pitch our advert idea to a marketing team. When we had a full idea we discussed how John Lewis will often do shorter, ten-second versions of their adverts to remind viewers of the story without showing the whole two-plus minute reel. We went around deciding what our key images would be:

  • Mum is sad and falls asleep exhausted on the sofa, fairy from the top of the tree flies around the house encouraging the family to help her with the festivities; story ends with a perfect Christmas scene

  • The boy dancing onstage while everyone is in the audience the the nutcracker smiles on

  • The child dropping his teddy bear, MI5 finding it and delivering it back to him, boy opening the front door to see his bear has returned to him along with several other gifts

  • A girl and her dog ice-skating together when she was originally bad at it

  • A rainbow being spread by the magic cloud into the little girl’s pictures

  • The stray cat being inside at Christmas and doted upon

Everyone was encouraged to go home and refine their idea in order to pitch in next week’s session!


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