This time last year, my colleague Laura went snooping around John Lewis on Oxford Street to work out what the store's feverishly-anticipated Christmas ad might be.
Good for SEO? Sure, sure. But Laura also correctly deduced that the ad was Elton John flavoured. She duly received the £50k bonus that Londonist awards its best writer of the week, in a champagne-fuelled ceremony at the Ritz.
This article isn't an easy gig, not least because John Lewis hasn't yet revealed its major festive windows. But we snuck around the side and into the store itself — where there are already smaller Christmas displays. And, by jove we think we've got it (totally wrong).
Let's set the scene. Ed Sheeran whispers Land of Hope and Glory over cascading piano. Our hero is a ruddy-cheeked little boy in striped pyjamas, peering out of his bedroom window on a frosty Christmas Eve. But what's that on the lawn? Only a unicorn! Magical already, innit.
Using his spiralling horn and a globe (available to buy from John Lewis, price £39.99), our unicorn points out to the boy all the pitfalls of the world in which the boy currently lives, and visualises an alternative reality, where it unrelentingly tips down with pure gold. Surely this unicorn can't be for real?
The boy, naturally, is split (about 48%-52%) on whether or not to go along with the unicorn to this gilded wonderland. But in the end he decides to go for it. What the hell. There follows a very long bus scene (about four years), in which the boy and the unicorn argue, get off the bus, then get on it again repeatedly — and essentially nothing much happens.
Finally... BANG! They've made it:
Unfortunately, the magical world isn't exactly what the unicorn had promised the boy. The only toys available are dull jigsaw puzzles of Downton Abbey and quaint English cottages:
And — because Belgian chocolate tariffs are through the roof — the only advent calendars are made from reconstituted pork:
The boy tries to escape, only to find that there IS no way out. [Cut to the next advert, probably about half price gammon at Asda].
Laura will be back with next year's instalment of this article, thank god.