John Lewis appears to have scored another home run in its series of schmaltzy, heartstring-tugging but ultimately heart warming Christmas adverts.
Except today someone at the department store – a bastion of middle class sensibilities – will be waking up to the realisation that in choosing the cute, CGI penguin star of the commercial, they have cast the avian equivalent of Jimmy Savile.
And that cannot be a good feeling.
Y’see Monty, the beaked, black and white centrepiece of the made-for-TV advert, isn’t just any waddling, flightless bird. Nope, Monty is an Adelie penguin. And more specifically he is a male of the species.
Which means in bird terms you might as well give him a ludicrous blonde wig, a medallion, a cigar and a “now then, now then” catchphrase – because this is one seriously depraved little bird.
In fact the deep wrongness of these otherwise cute-looking ice floe dwellers was first recorded by Dr George Levick, a member of Captain Scott’s now legendary polar exploration team.
His accounts were so disturbing and so graphic they were banned in Edwardian England and kept secret for more than 100 years – only coming to light again in 2012.
While studying the mating habits of the Adelie in the Antarctic, a shocked Dr Levick noted the frequency of sexual activity, auto-erotic behaviour, and seemingly aberrant behaviour of young unpaired males, including necrophilia, sexual coercion and sexual and physical abuse of chicks.
Oh dear. That’s exactly the same litany of horrific abuses and sex crimes catalogued by the predatory monster Savile.
Maybe none of this would really be an issue if the John Lewis ad wasn’t quite so inextricably linked with lovelorn Monty’s quest for … coupling.
If the ad featured the angel-faced lad buying his beady-eyed bird pal an icemaker, a Pingu backpack, a feather fluffer, a fish-shaped snackbox or a pair of penguin-sized slippers, then maybe it would have retained a sense of wishful innocence.
But the whole point of the commercial is that unconditional friendship of the tousle-headed schoolboy – called Sam – isn’t enough for Monty, who instead pines for the attentions of a female Adelie penguin.
In John Lewis ad land it is the perfect denouement to the story when selfless Sam takes his greatest Christmas joy from delivering to Monty a gift-wrapped female Adelie penguin
It cost more than £7 million to make the saccharine advert – and if the two minute tale isn’t enough for you, John Lewis has also invited viewers to visit a website where they can find out how the adventure continues.
Knowing what I know now (and what John Lewis didn’t tell us) I don’t fancy clicking on that site. Who knows what kind of penguin perversions web visitors will be forced to endure.
Nothing like a wee bit of background research, John Lewis. Maybe you should have gone for a Rockhopper instead?