John Lewis forced to pull controversial insurance ad

John Lewis ad depicts a young boy dressing up, which provoked criticism from some
John Lewis ad depicts a young boy dressing up, which provoked criticism from some

The creative was criticised for sexualising a child, but that's not why it was withdrawn.

John Lewis has pulled its controversial home insurance ad because a regulator has found the content misleading.

The ad received a public backlash on two counts: first, because some viewers felt it sexualised a young boy, and, second because viewers thought it misrepresented what would be covered in a standard home contents insurance package.

The first grievance accounted for the lion's share of public criticism, but it was the latter concern that led to it falling foul of the financial services regulator.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the ad could cause consumers to be confused about what its insurance covers.

The ad – created by Adam & Eve/DDB – depicts a boy rocking out to the Stevie Nicks song Edge of Seventeen, while dressing up in his mother's clothes sporting some badly and heavily applied make-up. 

It has received more than 380 complaints and counting, according to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).  

In a public statement, John Lewis & Partners said: “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 This advert has been withdrawn because the Financial Conduct Authority considers the content to be potentially misleading and could cause customers to be confused about John Lewis’ new home contents insurance offering.

“This was absolutely never our intention.

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

The business said it has contacted customers who took out its home constants insurance offering since the ad first aired to clarify these details.

Campaign recently debated the merits of the ad in a recent podcast. Click below to listen.

Read next: 'John Lewis shouldn't be afraid to defend its new ad'

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