John Lewis: Snapper, The Perfect Tree commercial

John Lewis’ first Christmas ad with Saatchi & Saatchi stars a charming but chaotic Venus Flytrap brought to life by directing collective Megaforce

As the apex of the Christmas advertising calendar in the UK, there was a huge amount of industry interest in what the John Lewis Christmas ad would look like following the brand’s switch from long-time agency partner adam&eveDDB to Saatchi & Saatchi in 2023. To help bring its vision to life, the agency enlisted the help of Megaforce, the French directing collective best known for its distinctive, off-the-wall style and its work with brands including Nike and Burberry.

“I pride Saatchi on not bringing a house style, and I think they’re the same. You don’t buy an execution when you go to those directors; you buy a creative partner who will bring something for the brand,” says Saatchi & Saatchi CCO Franki Goodwin. “It was really important to us that [the ad] didn’t sway into saccharine, and Megaforce kept us honest on that.”

The campaign film follows the story of an eight-year-old protagonist who lovingly nurtures a plant from seed in the belief that he is cultivating the perfect Christmas tree. But he quickly realises the tree is in fact a fast-growing Venus Flytrap with a puppy-like temperament, resulting in an amusingly chaotic family Christmas. The plant, nicknamed Snapper, was created in CG but also had a puppet modelled on it to assist the cast on set.

The score is perhaps the biggest divergence from John Lewis Christmas adverts past. Instead of featuring a cover ballad, Megaforce was instrumental in securing the ad’s high-energy operatic number provided by legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli, who performs a song called Festa (which translates as ‘celebration’).

Part of John Lewis’ broader Let Your Traditions Grow campaign, the film’s message is ultimately about evolving traditions – a quietly progressive tone reflected in the absence of a nuclear family and the choice instead to represent the 15% of single-parent households in the UK.

Inspired by the enduring and changing ways the nation now celebrates the festive season, the ad shows how celebrating the unusual and unexpected instead of the conventionally ‘perfect’ Christmas can lead to a more joyful time for everyone.

Jolyon White, founder and creative director at 10 Days and a judge for the Annual Awards, explains why the commercial was picked as a winner:

Category: Directing
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
CCO: Franki Goodwin
ECD: Paddy Fraser
Creatives: Alex Kosterman, Avani Maan, Iki Choi,
Will Griffin
Executive Producer: Alex Pemberton
Production Company: Riff Raff Films
Director: Megaforce
Producers: Richard Weager, Tracey Cooper
Executive Producer: Matthew Fone
DOP: Matias Boucard
Production Manager: Savvas Stavrou
Production Designer: Marco Puig
Art Director: Lucy Fewell
Costume Designer: Emma Jane Lipop
Puppeteer: Robert Tygner
SFX Supervisors: Neil Gawthorp, Tom Tuohey
Post-Production: Electric Theatre Collective
Colourist: Luke Morrison
VFX Supervisor: Alex Gabucci
Editor: Joe Guest, Final Cut
Sound Engineers: Sam Ashwell, Jake Ashwell,
Music: Wake The Town
Performer: Andrea Bocelli