Nov 15, 2018
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John Lewis unveils Christmas ad and experiential store activations

Nov 15, 2018

John Lewis has finally unveiled its Christmas ad with the big reveal of what has come to be the most anticipated UK seasonal campaign being less of a surprise this year given that Elton John’s involvement was known about in advance.

John Lewis

It leaves behind a long tradition of cute characters and, after an earlier ad this autumn that was based around Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, once again uses a well-known hit song (Your Song) as its central pillar.

The ad “tells how one gift in particular inspired and influenced the course of a little boy's life. That little boy just happens to be Elton John. The story begins in present day and works backwards chronologically through Elton's life, right until the moment he received the special gift of his grandmother's piano that changed his life forever because some gifts are more than just a gift.”

The ad runs for two minutes and 20 seconds and features Elton John himself plus a variety of actors playing him throughout his life.

Craig Inglis, Partner and Customer Director as John Lewis & Partners said: “Think back to all of the Christmases that you have enjoyed over the years - I’m sure there is one very special gift that stands out above all others. That's the magical feeling we wanted to bring to life this year. The ad tells the story of why Elton's piano was more than just a gift and we hope to remind customers of that special moment when they've given a gift at Christmas time that they know will be treasured forever.”

The company also said that the speculation in recent months around the costs associated with this year's ad is “wildly inaccurate and our total spend is similar to previous years.” There have been reports that Elton John was paid as much as £5 million for his role in the ad.

“The Christmas TV ad is an important investment for John Lewis and is a crucial part of our overall marketing campaign, driving sales throughout the key Christmas trading period,” the retailer added. “To date it has proven to be one of the most effective marketing campaigns in the industry, delivering an excellent return on investment.”

It also said that when first approached to be part of this year's John Lewis Christmas ad, “Elton requested that a portion of his fee was to be donated to the Elton John Charitable Trust.”

Back with the campaign itself, the company said it’s the “most experiential Christmas campaign to date, customers shopping on Oxford Street are invited to step into the set of the ad and experience if for themselves." 


John Lewis's flagship store is hosting a 2,000 sq ft experiential space on the third floor where customers can explore the dressing room, recording studio and living room sets from the ad, and interact with props, listen to recordings from Elton John's 17-11-70 album and have photos taken at the piano.

“The set is just one of a range of ad experiences in the shop that will have customers stepping into Christmas on every floor. The shop, along with 14 further shops across the UK, will also have a Yamaha piano for customers to play,” it explained.

And in a first for the UK high street, “customers will also be able to enjoy a musical light show," being projected from the shop's Oxford Street windows every 30 minutes from 16:00. Performing Elton John's Christmas classic, 'Step Into Christmas', "the shop's window displays will fill Britain's busiest shopping street with music and display a one-minute light show to entertain passers-by.”

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