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Friday, December 3, 2021

John Lewis deny copying Christmas advert music idea


The department store John Lewis has denied copying a lo-fi arrangement of the song Together in Electric Dreams for use on their 2021 Christmas advert.

British alt-folk duo The Portraits said the ad is similar to the version of the Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder hit that they released for charity last year.

Their daughter sang lead vocals on the slow orchestral piano version.

The John Lewis version, which was released last week, is now softly sung by 20-year-old Lola Young.

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The group – aka Jeremy and Lorraine Millington from Wells, Somerset – wrote on Facebook that they contacted John Lewis in March 2021 to offer up the track for consideration for this year’s ad but did not receive a reply.

They believe the new version “borrows the feeling and many elements of the arrangement” of their own, which was released during lockdown to raise funds for bereavement and mental health charities.

John Lewis said in a statement to the BBC, which first appeared in The Guardian, that the duo did email a member of the marketing department but she left the company, adding that there is “no substance” to their claims.

It noted how there are other covers of the song in existence.

‘Naive dream’

The new commercial for the company tells the storey of a boy’s friendship with an alien visitor – the titular Unexpected Guest.

The Portraits’ previous music video featured photographs of people who died as a result of coronavirus, as well as musical accompaniment by the Wells Lockdown Orchestra.

“Our version was a fundraising song aimed at supporting bereavement and mental health organisations that needed the money more than ever during the pandemic,” they explained on Facebook.

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“We had a (perhaps naive) dream that we could use a future company ad with our soundtrack linked to it to maximise the funds going to those charities.”

“However, John Lewis went with the idea and produced a version that borrowed the feeling and many elements of the arrangement of our version without even informing us.”

‘No substance’

“There’s no substance to the claims,” John Lewis responded, “because the person contacted by email left at the start of the summer and had no involvement in this year’s Christmas ad.” The music that goes with the advertisement is always the last thing to be added, and this year it was chosen at the end of October.”

“The creation of advertising and music is solely carried out by our agency, and we are unable to read or consider ideas from other external or internal sources,” they added.

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