John Lewis Christmas advert

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The John Lewis Christmas advert is a television advertising campaign released by British department store chain John Lewis in the build-up to Christmas.[1] John Lewis launched their first Christmas advert in 2007. It has since become something of an annual tradition in British popular culture,[2] and one of the signals that the countdown to Christmas has begun in the UK.[3][4][5] The adverts tend to attract widespread media coverage and acclaim upon their release.[6]

The songs used in the advertising campaigns are generally covers of existing songs by popular artists. They have often reached high positions on the UK Singles Chart, and the original versions often receive a sales boost.[7][8] Ellie Goulding, Gabrielle Aplin, Lily Allen, Aurora, Tom Odell and Vaults are among the artists whose music has appeared in a John Lewis Christmas advert.[9][10]

London-based agency Adam & Eve/DDB have conceived the adverts since 2009.[11][11] The adverts have led to some fierce competition, most notably from Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer and Boots.[12]

Campaigns[edit]

2007 – "Shadows"[edit]

Christmas 2007 saw the first John Lewis television advertisement in three years, with a six million pound campaign, their biggest seasonal ad spend up to that point. The commercial, directed by Michael Gracey,[13] did not feature the hallmarks of later campaigns such as an emotional denouement or slowed-down cover version, instead using Prokofiev's morning serenade from Romeo and Juliet. It features presents and products being carefully assembled positioned to eventually create a shadow image of a woman and a dog in the snow, in the style of artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster.

2008 – "Clues"[edit]

For a second year, Lowe and Partners were the agency behind the John Lewis Christmas ad, a montage of people of all ages and their ideal gifts with the tagline "If you know the person, you’ll find the present". Directed by Malcolm Venville,[13] this was the first to feature the now-traditional cover version, with "From Me to You" by The Beatles recorded by unnamed employees of John Lewis. The full track was made available to download for free on the John Lewis website with an encouragement to donate to Wallace & Gromit's Children's Foundation.

2009 – "The Feeling"[edit]

The 2009 advertisement, directed by Benito Montorio,[13] was the first for John Lewis by agency Adam & Eve (now part of DDB Worldwide), who went on to create the subsequent Christmas campaigns. Featuring a cover of the Guns N' Roses song "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Taken by Trees, the commercial features young children opening gifts usually given to adults such as a coffee machine and a laptop. With the tagline "Remember how Christmas used to feel", the final scene shows a girl unwrapping a camera and becoming a woman.

2010 – "A Tribute to Givers"[edit]

Ellie Goulding's cover of the Elton John song "Your Song" was the soundtrack to a collection of images showing people preparing gifts for their loved ones. Most notably, two parents attempt to secretly carry a rocking horse up some stairs whilst their children watch television. The advert, directed by Eric Lynne,[13] concludes with a boy taking a stocking of presents outside to his pet dog in the snow, and hanging it on the kennel. This caused some controversy with animal rights protesters who complained that the animal was left outside in the cold whilst the boy waved goodbye and retreated to the house.[citation needed]

2011 – "The Long Wait"[edit]

Featuring The Smiths song "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" sung by Slow Moving Millie, the 2011 advert, the first of many directed by Dougal Wilson,[13] featured a little boy impatiently counting down the days to Christmas. On Christmas Eve, he wolfs down his dinner and goes to bed early in preparation for the next day. When he awakes on Christmas morning, the little boy jumps out of bed, runs straight past a large pile of presents at the bottom of his bed and heads for the wardrobe. He then wanders into his parents bedroom, waking them to give them the gift he wrapped himself and had been waiting to give them.

2012 – "The Journey"[edit]

Using 20-year-old Gabrielle Aplin's version of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood classic "The Power of Love", the 2012 advert, again directed by Dougal Wilson,[13] showed a snowman who traversed fields, a river, a mountain to obtain a perfect Christmas gift for Mrs. Snowman. The advert was very quickly followed up by a children's picture book which was hastily written and published immediately after the advert's first screening. The song was the first song from the John Lewis Christmas adverts to be a UK Singles Chart number one. Also this year, Morrisons and Asda released controversial adverts featuring mothers.

2013 – "The Bear and the Hare"[edit]

Set to a cover of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" by British singer Lily Allen, the 2013 campaign featured an array of woodland animals in a classical Disney style and setting. The full advert lasted 2 minutes, and was made with 2D Animation by directors Elliot Dear and Yves Geleyn.[14] It told the story of a bear hibernating before Christmas, before being persuaded to wake up by the titular hare to see Christmas in all its splendour. The accompanying music quickly rose to the top of the UK Singles Chart, doing so twice more in later weeks.[15] A portion of the song's sales earnings were donated to proceeds Save the Children's Philippine Typhoon Appeal campaign.[16]

2014 – "Monty the Penguin"[edit]

In their press release ahead of the 2014 campaign launch, John Lewis stated that the strapline for the advert was "Give someone the Christmas they've been wishing for". They added that "the heartwarming advert tells the tale of an unlikely friendship between a little boy Sam and his penguin friend Monty."[1] British singer-songwriter Tom Odell recorded a cover for the advert of the 1977 John Lennon song "Real Love", which was the last official song recorded by the Beatles after being re-released in 1996.[17] Dougal Wilson directed.[18]

2015 – "The Man on the Moon"[edit]

Featuring a cover of Oasis' 1994 B-side "Half the World Away", sung by Norwegian singer Aurora,[19] the 2015 campaign tells the story of a young girl trying to contact an old man spotted living alone on the Moon. Her attempts to catch the man's attention fail until she sends him a special delivery of a telescope, via balloon, and the man finally gets to see Earth on Christmas night.[20] The strapline for the advert is "Show someone they're loved this Christmas", with the company teaming up with the charity Age UK.[21] The advert, the first of the brand's Christmastime commercials that was directed by a woman – Kim Gehrig –,[22] is estimated to have cost around £7 million.[23]

2016 – "Buster the Boxer"[edit]

The music for the 2016 campaign is a cover of Randy Crawford's "One Day I'll Fly Away", performed by English electronica band Vaults. The Dougal Wilson-directed[24] advert was released on Thursday 10 November and made its TV debut at 9.15pm on ITV. The adverts follows the story of a young girl, several wild animals and a Boxer dog named Buster. On Christmas eve, the young girl's father builds a trampoline in the garden, only for two foxes and a badger to begin jumping on the trampoline, later joined by two squirrels and a hedgehog. As the animals play, Buster watches from the living room. On Christmas Day, the girl runs down the stairs and into the garden to find the trampoline, only for Buster to leap onto it and do some jumping himself.[25] It was reported that the advert cost £1 million to make, £6 million cheaper than last year's advert.[26] A portion of the soft toy animals sales earnings were donated to The Wildlife Trusts.[27]

2017 – "Moz the Monster"[edit]

The Michel Gondry-helmed[28] advert features a cover of The Beatles' "Golden Slumbers", performed by the band Elbow. It tells the story of a boy who is afraid of the dark, and a monster named Moz who lives under his bed. Scared of the dark, the boy looks under his bed one night to find that Moz is resting there. Although the child is at first scared, then irritated by the monster's antics, the two very quickly become friends, although the boy quickly begins to become tired in the day due to playing with Moz at night. That Christmas, the child finds a gift under the tree that his family don't seem to recognise. Opening it, he finds a nightlight. When the nightlight is on, he can't see his new friend any more, but once he turns it off, he realises that Moz is still there after all.

Chris Riddell, author and illustrator of 1986 children's book Mr Underbed, tweeted "John Lewis helps themselves to my picture book,"[29] later writing "Just like Mr Underbed, Moz is big, hairy and blue and lives under a little boy’s bed, which he shakes and shudders when he emerges, snores loudly enough to require the boy to wear earmuffs and deprives him of sleep. The similarities are striking,...".[30]

Official singles[edit]

Release
date
Title Artists Peak
position
November 2009 "Sweet Child o' Mine" Taken by Trees 23
12 November 2010 "Your Song" Ellie Goulding 2
11 November 2011 "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" Slow Moving Millie 31
9 November 2012 "The Power of Love" Gabrielle Aplin 1
10 November 2013 "Somewhere Only We Know" Lily Allen 1
6 November 2014 "Real Love" Tom Odell 7
6 November 2015 "Half the World Away" Aurora 11
10 November 2016 "One Day I'll Fly Away" Vaults 53
10 November 2017 "Golden Slumbers" Elbow 29

Awards[edit]

John Lewis was honoured at the 2012 IPA Effectiveness Awards for their campaigns up to that point. They were awarded the top prize which is awarded to companies "showcasing and rewarding campaigns that demonstrate their marketing payback".[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Monty's Christmas" (Press release). John Lewis Partnership. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Wallop, Harry (5 November 2014). "John Lewis adverts from Christmas past". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Stone, Jason (12 November 2013). "John Lewis Christmas ads: how they evolved from 2007 to 2013". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Sherwin, Adam (6 November 2014). "John Lewis Christmas advert: It's sickly, sweet and surprisingly potent". The Independent. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  5. ^ Wallop, Harry (6 November 2014). "It's funny how John Lewis Christmas Advert is now part of our Christmas countdown". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  6. ^ Hobbs, Thomas (10 November 2016). "The John Lewis Christmas ad: Marketers react". Marketing Week. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  7. ^ Welsh, Daniel (6 November 2014). "John Lewis Christmas advert 2014: Best and Funniest Twitter Reactions to #MontyThePenguin". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Cheetham, Joshua (2017-11-10). "Christmas ad spend 'to hit record high'". BBC News. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  9. ^ "Sob! All the John Lewis Christmas adverts. Which one is your favourite?". Now. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Wallop, Harry (6 November 2014). "7 Things You Need to Know About the John Lewis Christmas Advert 2014". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "World's most creative partnerships: John Lewis & Adam & Eve/DDB". Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  12. ^ "The best Christmas 2016 adverts". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2013/11/08/which-john-lewis-christmas-ad-best-we-see-how-years-ad-stacks-next-previous
  14. ^ https://www.campaignlive.com/article/john-lewis-the-bear-hare-adam-eve-ddb/1220218
  15. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100 | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2017-08-25. 
  16. ^ "Revealed: What is the John Lewis Christmas advert song and who sings it?". The Daily Telegraph. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  17. ^ "Christmas! John Lewis's annual gift to the music industry!". The Guardian. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  18. ^ https://www.britisharrows.com/craft-2015/winners/award/montys-christmas-2015-best-director/
  19. ^ "The Man on the Moon: Everything you need to know about the John Lewis ad". The Daily Telegraph. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  20. ^ "John Lewis Christmas Advert 2015: watch the Man on the Moon". The Independent. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  21. ^ "John Lewis team up with Age UK for the most heartbreaking Christmas advert yet". The Sunday Post. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. 
  22. ^ http://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/ad-day-john-lewis-cheers-man-moon-poignant-christmas-ad-167986/
  23. ^ "The Man on the Moon: Everything you need to know about the John Lewis ad". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  24. ^ https://www.britisharrows.com/british-arrows-2017/winners/award/buster-the-boxerbusters-garden-winners-2017/
  25. ^ "John Lewis Christmas Advert 2016 - Buster The Boxer". John Lewis. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  26. ^ White, Jack (7 November 2016). "This year's John Lewis Christmas advert will be a cover of One Day I'll Fly Away performed by Vaults". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 7 November 2016. 
  27. ^ "Celebrating our wildlife | The Wildlife Trusts". www.wildlifetrusts.org. Retrieved 12 December 2016. 
  28. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/10/john-lewis-christmas-ad-2017-meet-moz-the-monster-under-the-bed
  29. ^ https://twitter.com/chrisriddell50/status/931160581893111809
  30. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/19/moz-monster-john-lewis-xmas-advert-illustration
  31. ^ Briggs, Fiona (29 October 2012). "John Lewis campaign awarded Grand Prix in top industry advertising awards". Retail Times. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 

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