John Lewis issues lukewarm response to backlash over ‘playful’ new advert

still from the latest John Lewis home insurance ad. The still depicts a young boy wearing a dress and colourful makeup smearing paint on his face

John Lewis has defended its latest advert against claims of sexism and toxic masculinity – but failed to address anti-LGBT+ backlash

The retail giant’s latest advert – starring a young boy wearing his mother’s clothes, jewellery and colourful makeup as he causes chaos at home to Stevie Nick’s “Edge of Seventeen” – has become the target of backlash online.

Some have called the boy’s destructive performance an example of toxic masculinity and privilege.

But perhaps the loudest criticism has come from so-called “gender critical” campaigners accusing John Lewis of “sexualising” children and pushing a “woke” agenda. It will come as no surprise that an almost-identical advert, which featured a girl dancing to Elton John, drew no such criticism.

As the row continues, John Lewis has issued a statement sidestepping the anti-LGBT+ backlash and responding to the notion the boy is purposefully smashing up his home.

John Lewis said it believed in “children having fun and that’s why we chose this playful storyline for our latest advert”.

“It’s designed to show the young actor getting carried away with his dramatic performance,” John Lewis wrote. “He is not willfully damaging his home and is unaware of the unintentional consequences of his actions.”

The statement ended with a plug for John Lewis’ home insurance policy.

The fact that John Lewis needed to respond to critics at all was met with disappointment, but not surprise.

Others applauded John Lewis for not “bowing down to TERF pressure” – an initialism that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”.

Most people loved the heartfelt ad for highlighting the wonders of childhood and a young person’s playful nature. Even Stevie Nicks herself had a positive response to the clip, tweeting “love this”.

Many angry critics have failed to notice is that the new advert is actually a direct remake of John Lewis’s 2015 ad “Tiny Dancer”.

In the original, a little girl twirls around her home like a talented ballerina. But she’s so immersed in her performance that she’s oblivious to the chaos around her.

The 2015 advert landed without any backlash, and nobody suggested the original child was being “sexualised”. So, as one person put it, the furious commenters’ “real issue” with the new ad is the boy is “having fun in a dress”.