It ain’t Christmas until the John Lewis spot runs

Although John Lewis & Partners, the high-end department store in England, had been running holiday spots for its stores throughout the decade, it’s in 2011 when our story begins—that’s when adam&eveDDB landed the account.

But instead of the run-of-the-mill holiday ad of people wrapping and unwrapping gifts, the agency decided to capture the spirit of the holiday with fairytales of sorts, featuring people and characters that, over time, captured the imagination of the consumer.

In fact, the spots have connected so deeply with the consumers that—and I fact-checked this with an English native—the Christmas season in England does not start until the John Lewis Christmas commercial runs.

In the very first spot that sets the tone of the commercials, a boy is anxiously waiting for Christmas Day, and we are to believe that he is looking forward to *his* gift but he is really waiting to gift his parents. In another, a bear, who has missed every Christmas because he was hibernating, awakens to a Christmas Day thanks to his rabbit friend. One year, a snowman walks across the countryside into the city and back, all to deliver winter gloves to his snowwoman wife.

My favorite is a story of a girl who spots the “Man on the Moon” through her telescope and realizes he is sad and lonely. She decides to send him a gift via a balloon.

I’m not crying; you’re crying.

And, finally, last year’s commercial starred Elton John and featured his song, “Your Song,” as it followed the singer from the present back to the day he was gifted his first piano as a young boy on Christmas Day.

Again, I’m not crying; you’re crying.

I previously attended a talk by the adam&eveDDB chief creative officer and he stated that the agency works continually from January to November to get to the final spot, and everyone in the agency is invited to contribute. That’s a lot of scripts.

So, I get the news that John Lewis is going to release the 2019 Christmas spot on November 14– and here’s what I think.

Excitable Edgar is a tiny little dragon who happily lives in a village among the people. He’s fine all year, except he gets a little, well, overly excited about Christmas time—so much so, he melts snowmen, melts frozen ponds and burns the town tree to the ground.

But, his friend, a girl in the village, has the solution for him to overcome his excitement for the season and put his fire breathing to good use: warming up the Christmas pudding, which she of course purchases from John Lewis.

I have to admit I wasn’t as struck by the spot as in previous years. They had me until the Christmas pudding, and I think it’s because pudding is so English (I’m not the demographic after all), it was lost on me. But nevertheless, it is a heartwarming spot. And judging by the online comments, people are overwhelmingly embracing the commercial.

But, now, alas, the wait begins for the next one.

About the Author: Frank is an advertising veteran of 20 years, and has worked at some of the biggest agencies in the Southwest, and is the Senior Creative Director at OH Partners and has been a part of the team for over 5 years. Frank has been awarded dozens of regional awards for his work, including a National Silver Addy in 2019, a National Gold Addy Award in 2018, and in 2017 he won the agency’s first ever Emmy award.

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