John Lewis is known around the world for its Christmas ads. Eager advertising fans will wait for two key moments on the advertising calendar: the Super Bowl and John Lewis’ festive campaign. This year, it turned its focus to fostering.
Gone are the big family dinners, celebrities or cute furry friends. This years’ highly anticipated John Lewis Christmas ad strips it all back and focuses on the humanitarian angle – the need for empathetic people to help out with the care system.
John Lewis ad tells a story
Although John Lewis is a department store, its famous ad campaigns are the unofficial start of the festive season throughout the UK. This year, it shifts its focus onto a middle-aged man. The lead character is clumsily learning how to skateboard. An unlikely person to see tackle the board, although he is struggling to master it.
After many (failed) attempts to conquer skateboarding, our hero struggles to hang the star on the tree or do basic chores. He ends up in a cast. At the conclusion of the ad, the man and his wife answer the door to a teenage girl with a skateboard tucked under her arm. The man’s efforts had been to connect with the foster daughter who would be joining them for the festive season.
It was an interesting choice, if not off-brand, for the normal irreverent and light-hearted campaigns of the past. But, with the state of the government in the UK, as people struggle to keep homes warm this winter, perhaps dressing up the festive season in all its adornments would’ve felt like placing a spring of holly onto a burnt roast – covering up something underneath.
Holly Kicul, the senior advertising manager at John Lewis, said, “We could have heavily gone for Christmas magic and fun but that didn’t feel the right thing to do this year with everything going on. It felt the right thing to use this platform we have to get this message [on carers] out. We wanted to have laughter but in a different way to what we do normally.”
Claire Pointon, customer director at John Lewis, said the ad was a “very different story to what we have done before” which was intended to “make you stop and think and say ‘how can I help’.”
Check out the spot below.