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A Very British Christmas

By Brett McKenzie on Dec 12, 2018

adam&eveDDB and John Lewis' long-standing holiday tradition


Here in the United States, the Christmas season — or at least the commercial side of it — kicks off with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade through Manhattan (although an argument could be made for the annual Starbucks holiday cup furor). In the United Kingdom, however, a new tradition has emerged, one that has its citizens huddled around their television sets: the John Lewis & Partners holiday commercial.

Starting in 2007 and elevated in earnest two years later when London-based agency adam&eve took the reins, the high-end department store has put out a sentimental spot every year that’s arguably more anticipated than any one Super Bowl commercial. Hallmarks of a John Lewis holiday spot include a massive dose of the feels, a catchy cover of a pop tune that almost always finds its way onto the music charts, copious mainstream media buzz, and occasionally a One Show Pencil the following year.

Ahead of the holidays, we’ve collected the last ten years of John Lewis/adam&eveDDB spots. And unlike figgy pudding and panto, you don’t have to be British to appreciate these Christmas gems.

 

2009

TITLE

THE FEELING

AGENCY

adam&eve / London

 

“Remember how Christmas used to feel?” A melancholy cover of “Sweet Child o’ Mine” kicks off the adam&eve era of yuletide domination, as children are shown expressing great joy in unwrapping presents better suited for adults. Can getting an espresso machine match up to the pleasures of a Red Ryder BB gun? In John Lewis’ world it certainly can.

 

2010

TITLE

A TRIBUTE TO GIVERS

AGENCY

adam&eve / London

 

From the mild frustrations of amateur wrapping techniques, to the giddiness of trying to conceal Christmas purchases from loved ones, the 2010 spot demonstrates the old adage that it’s better to give than to receive. Oh, and put a pin in the Ellie Goulding cover of “Your Song” — we will come back to that later.

 

2011

Title

The Long Wait

Agency

adam&eve / London

Client

John Lewis Partnership

Annual ID

12422T

Category

2012 Advertising: Cinema Advertising / Long Form - :90 and Over - Single

Who among us can't appreciate the feeling of anticipation and anxiety of a child waiting for Christmas? Those daily treats from the advent calendar just aren't going to cut it, we want December 25 to happen now. But don't be fooled — this young boy is impatient for surprisingly unselfish reasons. This is the first of the John Lewis Christmas spots to be recognized by The One Show.

 

2012

TITLE

THE JOURNEY

AGENCY

adam&eveDDB / London

 

Snowmen aren't exactly the most mobile of creations, but the newly renamed adam&eve/DDB show just how far one will go for those it loves. This time around, the music was a Gabrielle Aplin cover of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "The Power of Love." The commercial was so successful that it propelled the song past Bruno Mars, Rihanna and Alicia Keys to the top of the UK Singles chart that December.

 

2013

TITLE

THE BEAR AND THE HARE

AGENCY

adam&eveDDB / London

 

Opting for 2D animation this year (the first and only time the campaign has done so), we are treated to a woodland fairytale of a bear whose hibernating keeps him away from the forest's Christmas festivities. The Lily Allen cover of "Somewhere Only We Know" spends three weeks atop the UK Singles chart, once again demonstrating the power of the John Lewis campaign.

 

2014

Title

Montys Christmas

Agency

adamandeveDDB / London

Client

John Lewis Partnership

Annual ID

150024A

Category

2015 Film: Consumer Television / Over 60 Second - Single

All seems wonderful in the life of Monty the Penguin and his lovable pet human boy, but even the most well-adjusted flightless bird can long for companionship that people just can't provide. Fortunately, his human has plans on remedying that situation this holiday season. "Monty's Christmas" won two Silver Pencils at The One Show the following year.

 

2015

Title

The Man on the Moon

Agency

adam&eveDDB / London + Somesuch / London + Manning Gotlieb OMD (Media Agency) / London + Trim / London

Client

John Lewis

Annual ID

FI16021G

Category

2016 Film: Consumer - Television / Over 60 Second - Single

As joyous as the season can be, for many, the holidays can be a very lonely time. When a budding young astronomer stumbles across an old man who lives on the moon, at first she's overjoyed. She soon discovers his forlorn existence, cut off from even observing life on earth, and does everything she can to gain his attention and friendship. To further spread its message, the campaign partnered with a charity that helps fight loneliness among the elderly. "The Man On The Moon" did exceptionally well at The One Show, winning one Gold and three Bronze Pencils.

 

2016

Title

Buster The Boxer

Agency

adam&eveDDB / London + Blink Productions / London + Manning Gotlieb OMD / London + Leland Music / London

Client

John Lewis

Annual ID

OS_FI17016B

Category

2017 Film: Television / Long Form - Single

When a young girl's parents get her a trampoline as a gift, her excitement is dwarfed by that of her lovable dog Buster, who spends a nerve-wracking Christmas Eve watching the neighborhood wildlife have their fun. Awww, don't feel too bad, Buster. At least you earned yourself a Bronze Pencil at The One Show over the whole experience.

 

2017

TITLE

MOZ THE MONSTER

AGENCY

adam&eveDDB / London

 

Acclaimed filmmaker Michel Gondry takes the helm with this adorable take on the "monster under the bed" trope, in which a boy discovers that his particular bogeyman not only is friendly, but also loves to play — maybe a bit too much. With a dreamy Beatles cover and a robust cross platform integrated campaign that was recognized by The One Show, Moz was one monster that was hard to escape.

 

2018

TITLE

THE BOY AND THE PIANO

AGENCY

adam&eveDDB / London

 

Why use a cover when the original will do? For the current John Lewis holiday campaign, adam&eveDDB revisited "Your Song" from the 2010 commercial, only this time, they brought in Elton John himself to chronicle his life in reverse. From stadiums and jet planes to piano bars and studios, and across a whole wardrobe of outfits, the spot travels all the way back to his childhood and the Christmas gift that started it all — a piano from his mother.

Will "The Boy and the Piano" win at The One Show next May? Perhaps its craftsmanship and attention to detail will earn it a Cube at the ADC 98th Annual Awards. Whatever happens, rest assured that this time next year, we will all be watching another John Lewis campaign that tugs at the heartstrings in a delightful way — even on this side of the pond.

 

The One Show 2019 and the ADC 98th Annual Awards are both open for entries.

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