19 Aug 2021
John Lewis Christmas advert: vets ask retailer to advise customers "don't try this at home"
Dogs can be seriously injured by jumping on trampolines, so BVA is asking John Lewis to say "do not try this at home" about their 2016 Christmas advert
With just six weeks to go until Christmas, retailers’ festive adverts have started hitting our screens.
John Lewis’s 2016 Christmas advert, featuring a little girl who wakes up to find a trampoline in her garden on Christmas morning, only for her Boxer dog to run passed her and take the first bounce, has generated much attention - both positive and negative.
Immediately after the advert aired, BVA President Gudrun Ravetz tweeted John Lewis asking “please say 'don't try this at home'. Seen awful dog/trampoline injuries in vet practice #bustertheboxer”
With no response from John Lewis on Twitter, BVA has written to John Lewis’s Communications and Brand team. The letter, signed by Gudrun Ravetz BVSc MRCVS, President, British Veterinary Association, reads:
“I am writing from the British Veterinary Association (BVA), as the UK’s leading representative body for vets, to express our concern over this year's John Lewis Christmas advert depicting Buster the Boxer on a trampoline. Serious injuries can result from dogs being placed or jumping onto trampolines and we are concerned that your advert may cause many people to copy such behaviour with their own pet; with videos of dogs on trampolines already being widely shared on online and social media.
“Whilst we appreciate the feel-good sentiment the advert is trying to convey, and that it is intended to be whimsical, in reality vets - including myself - have seen a wide range of injuries to dogs as a result of being on a trampoline, from leg breaks to ligament damage. Furthermore, animals do not understand why the trampoline surface is different and can get confused and frightened when put on it, causing them further stress.
“There are enormous benefits of exercising and playing for a dog’s physical health and mental wellbeing, and it is one of the most enjoyable aspects of dog ownership, but we always urge owners to consider their pet’s health and welfare needs and, therefore, be responsible pet owners in doing this. On seeing Buster having fun on the trampoline many owners may want their pets to experience this also, without being aware of the damage it could do or the visits to the vets that could ensue. We suggest that a light-hearted "do not try this at home" message should be issued to accompany the Christmas campaign.
“Animal welfare is at the heart of everything vets do and so we ask John Lewis and all respected, influential national brands to use animals (real or CGI/cartoon) appropriately and responsibly in all of their advertising campaigns. Veterinary organisations and animal welfare charities work very hard to promote messages about responsible pet ownership and adverts, such as this one, with huge audiences, can undermine this work. BVA is always happy to offer advice on any commercial campaigns involving animals to ensure their welfare is being considered and ensured.
“We trust you will appreciate our concerns and will consider the implications for animals, and their owners, in future advertising campaigns.”
BVA doesn’t want to dampen Christmas spirits so is encouraging all vets and vet nurses to join their calls on John Lewis to issue a light-hearted "do not try this at home" message to accompany their advert, to prevent potential dog injuries and emergency trips to the vets this festive season.
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