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Why do the John Lewis adverts create such a buzz?


7th Nov 2019

Once again, retailer John Lewis has keeping us all in suspense waiting for the release of their 2019 Christmas advert. Previously created by London Agency, Adam and Eve, the adverts have become among the most popular television campaigns of all time with people up and down the country, scrambling to discover what date the new John Lewis advert will be released.  But why are they continually such a success and how have they become such an annual talking point?

Christmas Sentiment

Christmas is a time that evokes emotion in the majority of households in the UK. To some it is a time to bring family together and for others it is a time to reflect on what has been lost.

John Lewis have been producing big budget adverts for many years, but the ‘Long Wait’ campaign in 2011 was the first to really strike a chord with the nation. Directed by Dougal Wilson, it depicts a small boy, like so many others desperately waiting for Christmas day to arrive. The view makes the assumption that he is waiting for his own gifts, however, when Christmas morning arrives it turns out that in fact he was eagerly awaiting the 25th, so that he could give a gift of his own to his parents. Paired with a cover version of the Smiths’ ‘please, please, please, let me get what I want’ the ad caused wide spread discussion and clouded many an eye with a tear or two.


From then, the campaigns have continued to grow.  From a trampolining boxer dog to a man on the moon, the John Lewis Christmas adverts have pulled at heartstrings and become a Christmas tradition in their own right.

Carefully selected soundtracks  

The music chosen is key to the adverts, with well known singles being recrafted especially for the advert’s soundtrack. Artists featured on the John Lewis advert soundtrack are bound to see their sales rocket; four of the chosen songs have hit the UK top 10, with ‘The Power of Love’ covered by Gabrielle Aplin and ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ covered by Lily Allen both reaching number one. The original artists also receive a boost in record sales.

Films in their own right

With big budget directors, clever short stories and top class animators, the John Lewis ads have become films in their own right.

The ‘Bear and the Hare’ animation which showed the friendship between two woodland animals, showcased the adverts as short films more than any before.


Merchandise and charity support

In addition to regular seasonal sales, the ads have also helped to boost sales of merchandise for the stores. ‘Monty the Penguin’ toys sold out within 24 hours of his release, and penguin toy sales on eBay increased by 300% following the lovable penguin being featured in the advert. Sales of the ‘Man on the Moon’ merchandise also happily benefited the Age UK charity.

2017 saw Moz the Monster introduced to our screens, following leaks in the press of a “Gruffalo style monster”, it seems the speculation was pretty close to the truth. Moz strikes up an unlikely friendship with a young boy called Joe who is unable to sleep at night, thanks to Moz snoring under his bed. 

10% of the sale of Moz the Monster plush toys was donated to Banardos.  

Famous faces 

2018 featured the UK’s very own Elton John, and his lookalikes, as we watched a young Elton receive his very first piano. 

We’ve been doing John Lewis Christmas ads for some time now and what’s on my mind is how we move it on creatively but hold on to the heart of what makes them special, I hope audiences will watch this and really enjoy the national treasure that is Elton John.” ” Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis. 

In a touch of marketing campaign genius the signage at their flagship store was adjusted to show just “John” in a teaser prior to the advert release. 

The question is, having resorted to star power in 2018 to pull on the nations heartstrings, will the creative team behind 2019 advert keep their momentum now that the competition is higher. 

Fakes and serious competitors

As with all creative industry success, there will of course always be competition and impersonators and the John Lewis adverts have not been without their fair share of piggy-backers. 2016 saw student Nick Jablonka launch his A-level coursework, masquerading as the long awaited offering from the retailer. Fooling the nation with over 375,000 people viewing it in the first few days alone. 

Last year saw Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot fighting for the top spot, with their own parody of the Coca Cola “Holidays are coming” short film. Kevin has already made a return to our screens alongside the “leafy blinders” beating John Lewis to the 2019 release.  

The 2019 John Lewis Christmas Advert

Released on 14th November, the 2019 John lewis Christmas advert introduced us to another cuddly CGI character. This time it was the excitable Edgar the Dragon whose excitement for Christmas causes him to breathe fire. Frustrating his fellow villagers, this loveable habit sees him melt a snowman, destroy an ice rink, and ignite a large Christmas tree.

Thankfully, his friend Ava finds the perfect gift- a Christmas pudding- which allows him to put his fire breathing to good use and bring plenty of joy to the village. As expected, social media went into a flurry, with users largely welcoming the return of a CGI character following the Elton John ad back in 2018.

What will the John Lewis 2020 advert be?

We are yet to find out the release date of the 2020 John Lewis Christmas advert. Rumours typically start to circulate towards the beginning of November as this is typically the time that the retailer launches their latest ad.

As for what the theme will be or who will star in it, no one really knows, as John Lewis are infamously tight-lipped.

One thing is for certain; a social media frenzy will begin the moment the ad is released.

As a digital agency, we love speculating about what the adverts will be and how they will be perceived and of course should we have been given the opportunity, what direction we would have taken it in. It has become somewhat of a tradition on the release date to gather around a desk to watch it together. 

As far as a creative agency and retailer is concerned of course John Lewis and their ad partner have already achieved their goal, they are getting tongues wagging and some serious publicity, often without even releasing the advert…when it is well received too, well that’s the icing on the (Christmas) cake.



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