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A still from British store John Lewis's new holiday ad, which is making viewers worldwide a bit weepy. The retailer is offering fans the opportunity to download the music from its commercials.

John Lewis video/John Lewis video

1. Are you the kind of person who watches TV commercials and finds yourself more interested in buying the music on the soundtrack than whatever the advertiser is selling? U.K. retailer John Lewis has put together a compilation album of the popular cover tunes used in its notoriously sappy ads beloved by the store's female demographic sweet spot. Reworked features 11 songs, including a pair of Elton John covers, a Sade song, and Guns & Roses's Sweet Child of Mine. It also has Slow Moving Millie doing The Smith's Please, Please, Please Let me Get What I Want, used in the store's current commercial, which is making woman all across the U.K. weepy. And maybe one or two Canadian advertising reporters.

2. But come on, 'tis the season to be weepy! You know who else is misty-eyed these days? The U.S. broadcasters who own the rights to this season's National Basketball Association games. Or should we say this scuttled season's games? For, as the NBA season remains on hold because of intractable labour issues, marketers who had bought ad time on game broadcasts are being wooed by other TV channels. As a Viacom sales executive explained to this week, "Business has to go on. Advertisers have to sell product. They can't just sit on the sidelines and wait." Another added: "Every sales team on the street has an NBA alternative plan they're pitching to advertisers." Way to embrace the spirit of the season, guys!

3. But what do you expect? People are in a sour mood these days, and not just on this side of the world. Late last month, labour issues at Qantas Airways led to a three-day shutdown that stranded 80,000 travellers. So when the airline's PR operation abruptly tried to change the channel this week with a contest that asked people to submit entries on Twitter using the hash-tag #QantasLuxury, many simply mocked the airline. Our fave was a riff on the famous Hitler-in-a-bunker film Downfall, with new English subtitles that had the defeated Fuehrer dress down his generals over a botched social-media strategy. "Can someone tell me how we can turn Twitter off?" he asks balefully. "With any luck, someone will post a new funny cat video."

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4. The Qantas face-plant wasn't the cause of an existential crisis within the PR industry; that was coincidental. This week the Public Relations Society of America (along with its Canadian counterparts and others) kicked off an initiative to find a new definition of the practice that's more appropriate to the raucous age of social media, where "managing the message" isn't really possible any more. Putting its money where its mouth is, the group is trying to crowd-source a new definition, asking members of the public for input via Twitter (hash-tag: #PRDefined.) So far the discussion, which runs until Dec. 2, is pretty earnest and orderly and – let's be honest – boring. We'd say it needs more Hitler spoof videos, but then we might need a PR expert of our own.

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About the Author
Senior Media Writer

Simon Houpt is the Globe and Mail's senior media writer, charged with covering the industry's transformation. He began his career with The Globe in 1999 as the paper's New York arts correspondent, covering the cultural life of that city through Canadian eyes. More

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