John Lewis advert banned: why was 2021 home insurance promo Let Life Happen featuring boy in dress pulled?

The advert had caused controversy before it was pulled, with some calling it ‘agenda-pushing’

Department store John Lewis has been forced to pull its controversial home insurance advert from circulation, the company revealed on social media.

The ‘Let Life Happen’ advert, which features a young boy in a dress making a mess throughout his house, was found by a watchdog to be ‘potentially misleading’.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

So what happens in the advert, and why was it scrapped?

What happens in the advert?

In the advert, which was first released on 11 October, a young boy dances his way through a house, kicking shoes at lamps and light shades, while also grabbing paint and tipping it onto a rug and spreading it onto kitchen cabinets.

As part of the ‘Let Life Happen’ series of adverts, the aim was to promote John Lewis’ new home contents insurance product.

A young boy dressed in jewellery, makeup and a dress obviously destroys his house in the now-banned John lewis advert.

Why has John Lewis pulled it?

The advert was withdrawn on 27 October because the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) considered the promo to be “potentially misleading” to customers.

John Lewis posted a statement on social media which said: “You may have seen our “Let Life Happen” advert for our new home contents insurance offering which ran between 11 and 27 October 2021. This advert has been withdrawn because the Financial Conduct Authority considers the content to be potentially misleading and could cause customers to be confused about John Lewis’ new home contents insurance offering.

“This was absolutely never our intention. The ‘Let Life Happen’ John Lewis home insurance advert was created to show a joyful depiction of a young actor getting carried away with his performance, oblivious of the unintentional consequences of his actions.”

John Lewis have issued a statement regarding the controversial advert being pulled. (Credit: Getty)

Why did the FCA say the advert was misleading?

The FCA said that the advert is misleading because John Lewis’ new home contents insurance only includes accidental damage as an add-on to the product.

They have pulled the promo because the damage seen in the advert is only included in this add-on package.

In its statement, John Lewis said: “We would like to clarify that accidental damage cover is available as an add-on to John Lewis’ new home contents insurance product and only covers accidental (not deliberate) damage.”

The company has also said that they will be contacting all customers who have purchased the product from 11 October until 31 October to “confirm that they understood these points and are happy with their purchase.”

Why is the advert so controversial?

The ‘Let Life Happen’ advert series has included a series of adverts showing children dancing along to music and either causing or almost causing damage to their homes.

The promo in question depicted a young boy dressed in heels, a dress, makeup and jewellery dancing through his house to the Stevie Nicks song Edge of Seventeen.

Some people took to social media to voice their distaste at the advert, with Daily Mail journalist Isabel Oakeshott claiming it featured “sexist stereotyping” as his mother and sister look onto his performance passively.

Others took to social media to claim that the advert was “promoting transgender ideology”. Journalist and broadcaster Sonia Poulton also criticised the advert for “sexualising children”.

John Lewis previously responded to the controversy, saying: “At John Lewis, we believe in children having fun and that’s why we chose this playful storyline for our latest advert.

“If customers have Accidental Damage Cover with our Home Insurance, this would cover a range of major and minor home disasters - including unintentional breakages caused by children in the family. “

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.