A young alien experiencing her first Christmas – complete with mince pies and novelty jumper – is the star of this year’s John Lewis festive campaign.
The highly anticipated ad is a return to form for the retailer as it attempts to tap in to customer enthusiasm for a traditional Christmas season after last year’s muted celebrations amid pre-vaccination Covid.
Titled “Unexpected Guest”, the two-minute ad stars space traveller Skye crash-landing 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 is 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.
The release of the ad is around a fortnight earlier than usual and comes as the retailer revealed Christmas-related searches on its website are up 50% on this time last year.
The ad was created with agency adam&eveDDB, with John Lewis refusing to reveal a budget but saying it was in line with previous years’ spending.
Shoppers can buy a version of the Christmas jumper that Nathan gives Skye – minus the added lights in the ad’s version, in a nod to environmental sustainability – for between £14 and £29 depending on size, with 10% of the profits going to the charities FareShare and Home-Start UK.
Every product in the ad is from John Lewis, with customers able to “shop key scenes”, including the decorated Christmas tree and dinner table.
The ad first airs at 8.15pm on Thursday on ITV during The Pride of Britain Awards after launching at 6.30am for members of the ‘My John Lewis’ loyalty scheme via email access and from 8am on the retailer’s website and social media channels.
John Lewis customer director Claire Pointon said: “There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time and enjoying your favourite festive moments with loved ones.
“After the last 18 months, we wanted our advert to really celebrate this as we look forward to a brighter future.
“We know our customers are excited for this festive season more than ever, as they reconnect with family and friends. Through the story of Skye and Nathan we celebrate friendship and are reminded of the joy of experiencing Christmas for the first time.”
The campaign comes after the retailer “deviated slightly” last year from the style of previous adverts due to the backdrop of Covid-19 with nine different vignettes showing acts of kindness.
It also follows, just last month, the retailer being forced to pull a home insurance ad featuring a boy wilfully destroying his home after the Financial Conduct Authority found it could potentially confuse customers about the extent of the cover provided.
The partnership, which operates the John Lewis department store chain and Waitrose supermarket arm, unveiled a £29 million pre-tax loss for the half-year to July 31, representing a significant improvement from the £635 million loss it posted for the same period last year.