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The John Lewis Christmas ad is a veritable tearjerker which comes with an important message

The spot sees a little girl stargazing with her telescope when she comes across a lonely older man living on the moon. To the emotional strains of Oasis’ Half A World Away, covered by Norwegian singer Aurora, she makes a connection with him.

There is a formula to the John Lewis ad, which you will all be familiar with by now. A sentimental tale featuring a child is combined with a heart-wrenching cover version of a classic song to bring a nation to its knees in tearful submission.

The department store has followed this approach consistently in its Christmas ads since 2010, and expectation around the release of the ad has intensified with each passing year. The success of the John Lewis ad has impacted upon the entire Christmas ad season in the UK, with its focus on longer (this year’s ad is two minutes in length), story-focus ads with minimal branding influencing retailers from supermarkets to fashion brands over the years.

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There is a key difference in this year’s John Lewis ad, however. For the last two years (2013’s animated Bear and the Hare spot and 2014’s Monty the Penguin), the ads have featured cute animal characters which have been sold, in soft toy form, in-store, providing a lucrative product line for the brand. This year there will also be merchandise linked to the ad on sale though monies raised from three of the products – a mug, gift tag and card – will go towards Age UK.

The ad’s tagline – ‘Show someone they’re loved this Christmas’ – can be seen as a reference to all family and friends though is also reminiscent of Age UK’s tag ‘No one should have no one at Christmas’, presumably an intentional link.

The tie-up with Age UK is one that is likely to resonate with viewers and adds a truly tearjerking element to an already emotional campaign, one that even the cynics (for there are many who find the sentimental gloop of John Lewis’s Christmas ads a little grating) will find hard to argue with.

Credits:
Ad agency: adam&eveDDB
Director: Kim Gehrig
Production company: Somesuch
Post: The Mill

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