John Lewis’ festive advert reveals a distinct aspect of a household Christmas

We’re all well used to John Lewis tugging on the nation’s heartstrings when it comes to the Christmas ad season. Last year brought a change in tack from the retailer’s tried and tested cute character formula, telling the story of a young space traveller called Skye.

In the wake of another challenging 12 months, this time around its festive campaign is rooted firmly in reality. Focusing on brand purpose, the retailer uses its biggest moment of the year to spotlight the estimated 100,000 children and young people who will spend this Christmas in care.

Created by adam&eveDDB, with input from partner charities Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland, the ad uses one of the most conventional parts of the festive season – spending time with family – to start a conversation around an often overlooked issue.

Featuring a cover of Blink 182 track All the Small Things by Mike Geier (a dose of modern nostalgia in keeping with Sainsbury’s take on noughties classic Teenage Dirtbag), the story follows a middle-aged man’s many failed attempts and minor accidents as he learns how to skateboard. Seemingly undeterred, he continues to persevere until the true significance of his new hobby is finally revealed.

It’s a stripped back affair from a brand traditionally known for big-budget special effects and schmaltzy storytelling at Christmas time. But it’s an approach that makes sense in the wider context of the current cost of living crisis, and the simplicity of the production allows the message at the heart of the campaign to shine through.

The story is part of John Lewis’ broader Building Happier Futures programme; a long-term commitment to help young people with experience of the care system in a number of ways, including to find meaningful careers.

Through the programme, the retailer will support projects from organisations within the care sector that are helping to prepare care experienced people for employment, as well as providing direct apprenticeship opportunities within the John Lewis Partnership.

This Christmas, customers can support the cause by purchasing the brand’s Lewis Bear product range, with 25% of the sales going to charity partners Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland. A Giving Tree in stores will also invite customers to donate to the charities by taking a tag from the tree and scanning it with their shop.

Agency: adam&eveDDB
CCO: Richard Brim
Creatives: Edward Usher, Xander Hart, Richard McGrann, Andy Clough
Creative Directors: Matt Gay, Feargal Ballance
Design: King Henry
Designer: Dave Robinson
Head of Motion Graphics: Ed Christie
Motion Designer: Curtis Reeves
Production Company: Biscuit Filmworks UK
DOP: Daniel Landin
Production Designer: Jon Henson
VFX: nineteentwenty