Since 2007, the department store chain John Lewis became known for its Christmas adverts. This year, the anticipated Christmas 2017 advert launched on TV on 10th November and features the story of a boy and the big fluffy monster under his bed. Publisher Nosy Crow produced a hardback picture book in conjunction with the advert’s release, titled Moz the Monster. In addition to the book, which is only available to buy from John Lewis, there is a whole range of Moz the Monster gifts.
However, not everything is warm and fuzzy for John Lewis. Last week illustrator Chris Riddell commented on the similarities between Moz and his own creation, Mr Underbed. Andersen Press published Riddell’s first illustrated children’s book Mr Underbed in 1986 and Riddell re-illustrated the book in 2009, years ahead of John Lewis’s Christmas advert creation. While Riddell’s story definitely wasn’t the first to include imaginary monsters under children’s beds, Moz does bear a physical resemblance to Mr Underbed…
Some general criticisms towards the John Lewis advert claim that it isn’t “Christmassy” enough. Profiting off a design influenced by somebody else’s uncredited work is definitely not in the Christmas spirit, either. In response to this controversy, John Lewis told HuffPost UK that they stood by Moz as an original character with a completely different story. Yet, Chris Riddell’s Twitter video comparing the two stories highlights the obvious similarities in imagery and plot.
Compare Moz vs Mr Underbed and it’s undeniable. Both monsters are large, hairy, and blue with bulbous noses. They even have the same triangular fang teeth, one at each end of the mouth, though pointing in opposite directions. Both monsters rock the young boy’s bed with their snoring but eventually become friends with the child. Surely it’s a bit too close to be just a coincidence? Either way, Chris Riddell wrote for The Guardian that he won’t be pursuing legal action against John Lewis. He just hopes that the media attention will encourage companies and agencies to responsibly credit the creative ideas that influence their own content.
“Battle of the Monsters”
Since the story was picked up by several media outlets, any available copies of Mr Underbed sold out overnight. While the Nosy Crow Moz the Monster Christmas Book is exclusive to the John Lewis website and stores, various book retailers are already looking to stock more copies of Mr Underbed. Andersen Press ordered a reprint of Riddell’s book which should be available on 29th November. Check with your local bookstores or bookseller websites such as Amazon to purchase a copy from next week.
In light of the public response in favour of Mr Underbed, Andersen Press announced the “Battle of the Monsters”. The publisher intends to settle the issue of Moz vs Mr Underbed via the Christmas book charts. To help Mr Underbed come out on top in sales, Andersen Press will launch its own campaign. Members of the public can design a monster of their own and the winning creation will be illustrated by Riddell. Keep an eye on the #MrUnderbed hashtag on Twitter for updates!