On Thursday afternoon, I saw the new John Lewis Christmas advert. I was, it’s fair to say, pretty underwhelmed by the whole affair, especially after having seen so many people talking about how moving it was across social media. I mean, it’s cute enough and all that, but it didn’t make me feel in the least bit Christmassy, nor did it make me want to shed a tear like so many of my friends seem to have upon viewing it. I mentioned this fact on Facebook and inadvertently managed to surprise a lot of people who felt that my lack of enthusiasm meant that my heart must’ve been replaced by a swinging brick, but the whole thing just felt wrong to me.

This morning, I was browsing the internet and guess what? John Lewis has sold out of cuddly penguins featured in the advert.

John Lewis Penguins Monty and Mabel

I toddled over to the mobile site and found that not only were John Lewis selling cuddly penguins, including a huge one for just under £100, they were selling a whole bunch of ‘Monty the Penguin’ branded goods. MERCH ALL UP IN YOUR FACE. And you know the worst part? John Lewis has actually sold out of almost all of it. The hapless consumers have played right into their hands.

Now, I’m not naive enough to think that a company as huge as John Lewis would make an advert at Christmas, the busiest retail period of the whole year, just for shits and giggles; they’re trying to sell us stuff, plain and simple. But to me, creating a specific character, crafting an overly-sentimental advert around it and then merchandising the hell out of it, seems like a new low. I’m not even going to get started on the fact that people are buying a £95 cuddly toy.

The sudden lack of stock on their online store could be one of two things; either the British public really has lost its tiny mind and bought these exorbitant fluffy buggers in their thousands, or John Lewis is applying a bit of renegade marketing by only releasing a certain amount, thus creating a sell-out situation, and making demand for them go through the roof. What’s the betting we see people selling them on eBay, in early December, for hundreds of pounds to beleaguered parents whose kids want NOTHING but Monty the Penguin, only for John Lewis to miraculously find a mountain of stock right before the big day?

I know that for most, Christmas is not really a time of spirituality any more, and if you know me at all you’ll know that that’s really not my bag anyway, but I’m really nauseated by the blatant manipulation that John Lewis has employed in doing this and I certainly won’t be buying into it. It all seems so dreadfully cynical.

Have you bought any of the John Lewis Penguins or do you think the whole thing is madness? Let me know.