The Secret Sex Shame Behind John Lewis’s Monty The Penguin Ad

John Lewis Christmas ad with Monty the Penguin

Monty the Penguin and schoolboy friend.

Just hours after being released to an expectant public, it seems Monty the Penguin is a big, fat, online viral hit.

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. Continue reading


When ads go bad in a digital age, is it still called a Wimborne?

Dredging up an old newspaper memory, from the days before t’internet I was trying to recall the term used for those  occasions when adverts and stories were juxtaposed in an inappropriate way.

Emperor Hirohito

Emperor Hirohito

For instance, when Emperor Hirohito died in 1989, I worked at the Evening News  and the story took up the whole of page three – apart from a prominent advert for a popular Easter Road pub … The Royal Nip.

Cue much schoolboy hilarity among the reporting staff . And panic among the subs as they tried to reorganise the paper to find another 20 x 3 ad to drop in its place.

Back in the day these unfortunate juxtapositions were known in newspaper circles as “Wimbornes”.

I believe the name came from the Dorset town of Wimborne, where the local weekly paper has achieved near legendary status in the 1970s and 80s for its regular clangers where ads and stories jostled together in unintentionally hilarious or offensive ways.

Today I had cause to take a quick straw poll of colleagues – and of the three under 30s I asked only one had heard the term Wimborne in this context.

Which got me wondering what – if any – term is used in the web age for these kind of clangers? (and who was it again that said websites don’t need subs?)

Another question: Why is it that when  the name of a thing, person or business is brought to your attention for the first time, it suddenly seems to be mentioned every day for a month?

In this case the two points are linked. On Sunday a friend pointed out a branch of a Scottish deli chain to me. I’d never heard of the McLeish Brother delis until that point.

His reason for mentioning it? A new branch of the upmarket sandwich shop was due to be opening in his office building, yet the fit out hadn’t even started, leaving expectant customers wondering why?

Today the answer became clear when a colleague noticed a newspaper story announcing the deli chain had plunged into administration, with the loss of 175 jobs.

Mainly my interest tweaked was by the fact a name which had never previously blipped on my radar should suddenly come up twice in 48 hours (no doubt I’ll be hearing it every day until February 12).

So I promptly Googled the name, got to The Scotsman website and gratefully read the paper’s business report on the troubles besetting the chain.

Now I may be a happy blogger and Web 2.0 enthusiast.  But I’m still an old fashioned guy when it comes to keeping up standards. What horrified me in this case was that the on line story was tainted by not one, but two Wimbornes. The kind that would have paper and ink newspaper subs suffering fits of apoplexy.

Inevitably the links on the Scotsman story will change when the pay-per-click ads are exhausted – or when the story is archived. So I caught it here for posterity.


The blue banner ad is only mildly insensitive to the 175 food workers who are losing their jobs (never mind – there are  still great deals at restaurants, mibbes even some withing reach of the pockets of the jobless).

But the bigger ad must be like a punch in the guts to anybody affected. Not only does it show a whitewashed window with a ‘To Let’ sign (like those which will soon be appearing in McLeish units no doubt). But when you mouse over the ad a wee bit of animation kicks in.

As you watch a pointed finger scrapes a message in the whitewash: “I’m going to move my business into new areas”.

Sadly for the 175 affected workers at McLeish, their bosses have moved the business into unexpected new areas … administration.

Any amusing examples of wimbornes (preferebly with links) will be gratefully received.