Ad of the Week: John Lewis Christmas Ad

John Lewis has released its Christmas ad today, and it’s a heartwarming animated tale about a bear who has never experienced Christmas, because he is always in hibernation. This year though, his friend the hare wakes him up with a present…

John Lewis has released its Christmas ad today, and it’s a heartwarming animated tale about a bear who has never experienced Christmas, because he is always in hibernation. This year though, his friend the hare wakes him up with a present…

John Lewis has done a superb job of building hype around its Christmas ads in recent years, producing a series of spots that are deeply sentimental but stay just on the right side of out-and-out schmaltz (though occasionally teeter on the edge). This is the first ad in the series to feature animation, and the film is an innovative mix of 2D stop motion drawings shot on a 3D set. Its soundtrack continues an established John Lewis trend though, of using an acoustic version of a well-known song – this time it’s Lily Allen’s turn, performing Somewhere Only We Know, a 2004 hit for Keane.

The ad is created by Adam & Eve/DDB, the agency behind the brand’s Christmas ad hits since 2009. It was directed by Elliot Dear and Yves Geleyn from production companies Blinkink and Hornet, and features character design by Disney artist Aaron Blaise, who previously worked on the Lion King and Brother Bear, among other films.

Check back on Monday for an interview with Elliot Dear of Blinkink who will explain in detail how the spot was created.

  • Oh man, so disappointed with this.

    The trouble with setting the bar so high in 2011 is that it’s almost impossible to top it using the same formula. I say the same – actually this one is weaker for the lack of the big reveal.

    Time to find a new playbook, I think.

  • its xmas and anthropomorphic animals – what’s not to like?… i seem to have something in my eye …

  • I don’t agree with Neil at all. I think they have done a great job and the animation team have produced a really nice short story. Perfect song choice too.

  • Jimbo

    Too much saccharin for me. Sorry not a fan despite some beautiful footage.

  • yeah, the bastards should have killed the bear! tsk!

  • Santa

    There was a South Park episode with a similar story a few years ago… bit more gruesome, though.

  • The Animation is great, however for me, not as great as the previous xmas JL ads

  • Jay

    clearly a fan of watership down…

  • “There was a South Park episode with a similar story a few years ago… bit more gruesome, though.
    2013-11-08 12:08:02”

    AND, worth noting – the premise is an old story, to. The oldest version of this, I recall, is from Yogi’s First Christmas, 1980:

    “Yogi and his little pal, Boo Boo, are usually hibernating during the Christmas season, but this year they are awakened when Huckleberry Hound, Snagglepuss, Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy come to Jellystone Lodge for the holiday.”
    (via Wikipedia:'s_First_Christmas)

    Not to say the ad is poorly executed, but I wonder how much of an influence the Yogi Christmas special was on this particular ad’s setup. I sometimes think about the Yogi special (a favorite when I was a kid), but it’s only when I see something extremely similar that I’m reminded of the Yogi movie.

  • Adrianos

    This will be a safe, warm cuddly hit with John Lewis adorers. The only innovative aspects is it’s an animated story. Water ship Disney is pretty but not original and that’s obvious. Musical style is getting thin. I suppose it could be consdered a modern classic by some but for me it’s somewhat pedestrian. Not imaginative at all.

  • Good animation, but not new

  • Michael woodall

    It really doesn’t matter if it is like yogi or any other previous features . The fact is in my opinion this advert has what it needs. It touches ones feelings that don’t show except at times of terrible disasters or magical moments like Xmas. well done.

  • Dee

    Love it bought a tear to my eye any animal lovers will love it very touching

  • Hi Eliza.
    Made on a thousandth of the JL budget, with an unknown (but wonderful) singer. Check out our ‘Ad’ on our site I think it might make you smile. But see what you think for yourself.

  • Dinah-l

    Gosh, what a major disappointment – been waiting for their ad – won’t be waiting for it to come on again as I have in previous years…2/10…terrible…just doesn’t appeal at all…sadly, this commercial didn’t bring a tear to my eye as has in previous campaigns and think it lags woefully behind other seasonal offerings…what a shame

  • Cliff B

    My wife and I loved the ad, in the same league as the Cointreau Christmas ads of many years ago. I don’t know if the idea came from an old Yogi story but does it matter? I think not. It’s a delightful start to the Christmas season and I very much doubt that children will have ever heard of Yogi. In other words, stop being so hyper-critical and start enjoying life!

  • Hedgehogsrule

    Fantastic ad if I turn the sound off. Lily Allen has ruined a good song.

  • Smac

    Agree with Cliff B – stop being hypercritical. Correct me if I am wrong, but Christmas is the season of goodwill to all….. Share a bit. The target audience will enjoy it, and relate to the brand – isn’t that what its all about. It’s an ad after all!

  • Steve

    I can’t wait for the trend of using average, wishy-washy, folky covers of average songs for these kinds of adverts ends. It’s really dull.

  • Scooterch

    What a waste of marketing budget. Just repeat the 2011 ad.

  • Chris

    ^ you are all so bloody bitter/cynical (insert more here), its an outstanding ad and everyone I’ve spoken to who isn’t a designer bloody loves it. Its a great piece of work and its execution is wonderful. The clock really makes the story work even harder too!

    Cheer up you miserable sods, CR-blog is becoming a really bad source of people absolutely slating everyone else’s work. Poor Show. (And before any of you smart arses say it, yes you are entitled to your own oppinion, its just a shame they are on average negative)

  • Dotty

    Great ad lily did a great job on the song did not care for it before would love to hear it fully

  • Paul

    Really great spot and beautifully executed. It’s nice to see clients spending on quality production which is sorely missing these days.

    I don’t get all the miserable comments though… Not a lot of constructive criticism here. Judging by the positive feedback by the public maybe there’s a lesson to be learned by the advertising community in making spots that people want to watch rather than be skipped or blocked as usual.

  • I think Chris has a point. Many of the comments I read on the CR blog seem to be very negative which is a shame when CR are providing great blog posts.

    Maybe the advert does not have the impact of previous ads from John Lewis but then if this impact was not expected of previous ads it is to be expected.

    It is a lovely advert in my opinion. The script, song choice and animation work really well for me but I cannot speak for many on the CR Blog that seem to only stop by to slate the creative works of others.

    The team of creatives who worked on this should be very proud.

  • Barbara Walker

    No prizes this year. Who is the awful singer?

  • Patrick

    I’m sorry , I’m no Simon Cowell but the song is terrible… Probably just me but dull it what! Mockney accent can’t hit the notes clearly wollop dosh

  • Leon Broome

    Never knowingly underwhelmed