From Excitable Edgar to Sir Elton John – a history of John Lewis Christmas ads
The annual John Lewis Christmas advert – now a highly anticipated staple of the festive season – this year stars a man painfully learning to master a skateboard as he awaits the arrival of a young teenager his family is taking in to foster care.
Here is a rundown of the ads and their soundtracks since the first one screened in 2007.
– 2007: Shadows
The ad shows a group of people stacking a pile of gifts including a desktop lamp, a computer and a leather satchel in an empty room. The finished product ends up creating a shadow that looks like a woman walking her dog through the snow, accompanied by the tagline: “Whoever you’re looking for this Christmas.”
– 2008: From Me To You
Culminating in the tagline: “If you know the person, you’ll find the present,” it shows a succession of characters followed by a matching gift.
The soundtrack is a cover of The Beatles’ From Me To You recorded for the campaign, with vocals by Matt Spinner, a member of the John Lewis IT department, and its music society.
– 2009: Sweet Child O’ Mine
This was the first of the store’s Christmas campaigns created by advertising agency Adam & Eve, now adam&eveDDB, and the first to feature a musical cover by a current artist, on this occasion a Taken By Trees version of Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses.
The ad shows children opening gifts for adults including a laptop, coffee machine and handbag, followed by the tagline: “Remember how Christmas used to feel? Give someone that feeling.”
– 2010: A Tribute To Givers
Ellie Goulding’s cover of Sir Elton John’s Your Song was the soundtrack to this ad, which showed parents sneaking a rocking horse upstairs while their children watched television, a man struggling to wrap a pair of candlesticks, a mechanic attempting to wrap a teapot at work and a young boy hanging a stocking on his dog’s kennel.
– 2011: The Long Wait
Set to Slow Moving Millie’s cover of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want by The Smiths, the ad shows a young boy impatiently counting down to Christmas, only to show that his real motivation was to give presents to his parents.
– 2012: The Journey
A snowman traverses mountains and motorways to get to a shop to buy his snow girlfriend a scarf to keep her warm.
The soundtrack is Gabrielle Aplin’s cover of The Power Of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and the tagline is: “Give a little more love this Christmas.”
– 2013: The Bear And The Hare
Lily Allen’s cover of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know accompanies an animated tale that opens with the line: “There was once an animal who had never seen Christmas.” It goes on to show the friendship between a bear and a hare until the bear departs to hibernate when snow starts to fall. The hare thinks of the perfect Christmas present for the bear, an alarm clock to allow him to wake up and experience Christmas.
– 2014: Monty The Penguin
Monty, who hopes for love at Christmas time, is the imaginary character created by a boy whose favourite toy is a stuffed penguin. A female penguin toy happily arrives under the tree for Monty on Christmas Day.
The ad features a Tom Odell cover of John Lennon’s Real Love.
– 2015: Man On The Moon
The biggest tearjerker of them all shows a young girl who spots a lonely old man on the moon and decides to send him a telescope to give him a connection to Earth. The partnership with Age UK had the tagline: “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas.”
Norwegian artist Aurora provided the soundtrack with a cover of Half The World Away by Oasis.
– 2016: Buster The Boxer
The story of Buster, who makes a break for the new Christmas trampoline after having to suffer watching foxes, a badger, squirrels and a hedgehog trying it out first, was accompanied by a cover of Randy Crawford’s One Day I’ll Fly Away by electronic trio Vaults.
– 2017: Moz The Monster
A friendship develops between seven-year-old Joe and his imaginary monster under the bed, Moz, based on a mutual love of late-night Scalextric and piggyback games. Moz eventually realises that their late nights must end when he sees the toll they are taking on Joe. Joe wakes on Christmas morning to find a clumsily wrapped present of a night light under the tree.
The ad was set to a cover of Beatles song Golden Slumbers by Manchester band Elbow.
– 2018: The Boy And The Piano
The Christmas campaign took its first celebrity turn by making Sir Elton John the star of this ad, with his performance of Your Song the soundtrack to a festive-tinged retrospective of his life and career.
The ad opens with the superstar tapping out the opening notes to Your Song, his first major hit, and ends with the four-year-old Elton running down the stairs on Christmas morning and unwrapping his grandmother’s gift of her piano.
– 2019: Excitable Edgar
An exuberant young dragon called Edgar almost derails festivities in a medieval village with his fire-breathing excitement, accidentally melting the ice rink, reducing a snowman to a puddle and setting fire to a Christmas tree as his anxious friend Ava looks on.
The advert, the first in partnership with Waitrose, was set to a recording of REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling by Dan Smith from the band Bastille and was filmed over two weeks in Budapest with a live extras cast of around 100 people.
– 2020: Give A Little Love
This campaign focused on acts of kindness during the coronavirus pandemic.
The stripped-back advert was a departure from the blockbuster clips of previous years and consisted of a series of short stories, all depicting random acts of kindness and released to mark National Kindness Day.
The ad featured a new song written and performed by singer Celeste.
– 2021: Unexpected Guest
Space traveller Skye crash lands at the height of festivities in the woods near the home of 14-year-old Nathan, who introduces her to the traditions of eating mince pies, decorating the tree and, to her slight confusion, wearing novelty jumpers.
The soundtrack was provided by 20-year-old London singer and songwriter Lola Young, who performs a cover of Together In Electric Dreams, originally released by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder in 1984.
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