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5 Pencil Winning John Lewis Christmas Ads

Variety boxes of chocolate begin to deck the supermarket shelves, a festive sandwich sneaks into your meal deal and somewhere far off, Michael Bublé wakes up from his year long hibernation and begins to warm up those vocal chords. Yes, it’s that time of year again. But nothing, not even the inevitable procession of Coca Cola trucks, heralds the rapid approach of Christmas quite like the release of this year’s John Lewis ad.

Since 2009, adam&eve (now adam&eveDDB) have been pulling unashamedly on our heartstrings, melting the even the frostiest of Scrooge's and picking up a fair few awards along the way. Over the years we’ve seen themes of love, friendship and loneliness, and whatever snow-dusted, fairy-lit avenue John Lewis take us down, the ads are always set to an acoustic cover of an iconic song.
 
To celebrate the release of another classic, we’re diving into the archive to bring you our pick of Pencil winning work from adam&eveDDB and John Lewis.
 
Tissues at the ready, folks.
 

The Long Wait - 2011

Though adam&eve had already been working with John Lewis for three years, it was 2011 that secured their spot in the immortal Christmas ad hall of fame. 'The Long Wait' introduced the concept of narrative, telling the touching story of an impatient boy desperately willing December to fly by. This heartwarming twist at the end surprised viewers as much as the realisation that the ad didn’t overtly feature any John Lewis products at all.

  • Graphite Pencil / Film Advertising Crafts / Direction for Film Advertising / 2012
  • Wood Pencil / TV & Cinema Advertising / TV Commercials 61-120 seconds / 2012

The Journey - 2012

Following in the footsteps of‘The Long Wait’, 'The Journey' tells the magical story of a snowman who goes to epic lengths to find a gift for the (snow)woman he loves. Crossing river, mountain, road and city to find her the perfect gift, he returns just in time for Christmas. Again, 2012 strays away from heavily branded John Lewis products and puts the idea of Christmas being about giving, rather than receiving presents at the forefront of its campaign. 

However, it was the use of music that won this spot its Wood Pencil for Film Advertising Crafts. The haunting cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’ made the song a number one hit for the second time running 28 years exactly 28 years later.

  • Wood Pencil / TV & Cinema Advertising / TV Commercials 61-120 seconds / 2013  

Bear & Hare - 2013

With the ‘established cover’ now firmly woven into the brand’s identity, Lily Allen’s interpretation of “Somewhere Only We Know” soundtracked 2013’s ad, earning over 7 million YouTube hits and the No.2 spot in the Official Singles Chart UK in its first week alone. By mid-December, ‘Bear & Hare’ had become the most Shazam’d advert of 2013 and ensured the single a spot at No.1 in the UK chart for two weeks. And, in the spirit of gift-giving and do-gooding, a portion of the song's sales earnings were donated to proceeds Save the Children's Philippine Typhoon Appeal campaign.

Using a unique animation style that combined traditional 2D hand-drawn animation, stop frame, and 3D model made sets, the Disneyesque ‘Bear and Hare’ picked up both a Graphite and Wood Pencil in Film Advertising Crafts subcategories whilst also, winning over a nation.

 
  • Wood Pencil / Film Advertising Crafts / Animation for Film Advertising / 2014  
  • Wood Pencil / Film Advertising Crafts / Use of Music for Film Advertising / 2014
  • Graphite Pencil / Film Advertising Crafts / Production Design for Film Advertising / 2014 

Monty's Christmas - 2014

Depicting the unlikely friendship between Sam, a little boy, and his best friend, Monty the penguin, 2014’s ad evoked the magic of a make-believe Christmas through the eyes of a child. This time the ad was set to British singer-songwriter Tom Odell’s cover of the 1976 "Real Love", the last official song recorded by the John Lennon and the Beatles.

But aside from having us all blubbering like babies, 'Monty’s Christmas' saw the John Lewis festive ad becoming an institution. By now, it was clear that the much awaited spot had secured its position as reigning champs of Christmas ads but Monty was the birth of a much wider, integrated campaign.  

Monty fever began prior to launch with a campaign teaser appearing in a Channel 4 ident. From then on, Monty and his partner Mabel became seasonal mascots, appearing in windows, books, apps and across merchandise - even receiving their own Twitter accounts. The John Lewis Penguin Toys sold out within days of the campaign's launch and as a result of the Monty’s success, the store experienced a record sales week, taking in £175 million for the first time.

  • Wood Pencil / Film Advertising Crafts / Animation for Film Advertising / 2015     
  • Wood Pencil / Integrated & Innovative Media / Integrated / 2015    

Man on the Moon - 2015

2015’s ad tells the story of a young girl paying little interest in the build up to Christmas around her, but instead desperately trying to send a message to a man that lives on the moon. The team wanted to create something that resonated in real life and meant something above and beyond gratuitous Christmas tearjerking.

So, in traditional John Lewis style, the campaign uses a fantastical world to highlight a real issue or theme, this time taking giving life to the statistic that half a million old age pensioners will be on their own on Christmas day. Using Augmented Reality to digitally enhance the story, the man on the moon represents not just old people, but anyone who feels lonely at Christmas.

As well as making people aware of the issue, they began working together with charity Age UK, producing a range of man on the moon merch as well as a number of in store activities, lunch clubs and Christmas social events, that would benefit those spending the festive period alone.
 
Set to Oasis track ‘Half the World Away’ covered by the haunting vocals of norwegian pop singer Aurora, the ad is just as heartwarming as ever.
 
  • Wood Pencil / Film Advertising / Cinema Commercials 61-120 Seconds / 2016     

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Professional Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.
 
 

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