John Lewis Christmas advert: The touching behind-the-scenes story

Marie Claire Dorking
·5 min read

The John Lewis Christmas advert has finally dropped and this year it comes with an extra special twist.

Inspired by the response of the British public to the COVID-19 pandemic and the “acts of kindness” that emerged from communities, this year’s advert has switched focus from gift-giving to sharing the love.

The two minute clip features different acts of kindness through nine different live action and animated scenes.

It starts with a little girl wearing specs and a yellow raincoat helping a boy get his football down from the tree, using a heart-shaped umbrella.

The little boy then passes the kindness on by aiding a snowman, who then helps a family get their car going.

The final moment involves a kind-hearted nurse on a bus who gives a heart-shaped sticker on her apple to a little girl to mend her specs.

The advert is backed by the beautifully touching A Little Love, an original song by Brit Award winner Celeste.

The advert was inspired by the public's reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. (John Lewis/Waitrose)
The advert was inspired by the public's reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. (John Lewis/Waitrose)

Read more: Heartbreaking 'alternative John Lewis Christmas ad' has moved people to tears

While the advert gives us all the usual feels associated with a John Lewis’ festive offering, there’s a behind-the-scenes detail, which adds a little extra feel-good to this year’s campaign.

The nine different vignettes were created by eight different artists, meaning that instead of a single production team, multiple artists were involved. So the production provided employment to many people across the creative industry.

John Lewis says the unique approach was chosen in a spirit of kindness towards the creative industry, which has been hard hit by the pandemic.

“We wanted this ad to celebrate the full richness and diversity of British life, so we deliberately sought to work with a variety of artists that could bring very different styles, perspectives and influences to bear on the creative process,” a spokesperson from John Lewis and Waitrose tells Yahoo UK.

Watch: The COVID-themed Christmas advert taking social media by storm

“We also wanted to represent and support the full spectrum of the creative industry, so our chosen artists range from established BAFTA winners through to graduates,” the spokesperson added.

Four post-graduate students were also chosen from Kingston University to create a 30 second complementary advert.

“This year we felt it was important to champion new talent, knowing that graduating in 2020 would be a greater challenge than usual,” John Lewis explain in a blog outlining the making of the advert.

“So we approached students from Kingston University’s BA in Illustration Animation to help bring our vision to life.”

Read more: People are putting up their Christmas decorations early and experts say it could boost wellbeing

Part of the advert features a cute hedgehog. (John Lewis/Waitrose)
Part of the advert features a cute hedgehog. (John Lewis/Waitrose)

John Lewis says that this year’s Give A Little Love ad is different to any other campaign it has done, mainly because the retailer recognises that this is a year like no other.

So much so, that the ad almost didn’t happen at all, with the retailer questioning whether it would be appropriate to make an ad this year.

But the team decided to go ahead, with the aim of helping to raise awareness for their charity partners.

They hope that the ad will help raise £4million for two charities - FareShare, which helps stop food poverty and Home-Start, which works with parents who need support.

Since the pandemic started FareShare has had to double the amount of food it distributes to meet the rising demand, and more than one third of Home-Start centres have seen an increase in demand for services.

“We did consider whether it was right to produce an ad this year at all,” explains James Bailey, executive director of Waitrose.

“However, FareShare and Home-Start told us how much of a difference this campaign could make, both on a financial level and in raising awareness of the incredibly important work they do with families across the UK.

“The pandemic has highlighted the growing inequalities across the country, with those who are already most vulnerable disproportionately impacted.

(John Lewis/Waitrose)
The retailer wanted to help the creative industry which has been hit hard by coronavirus pandemic. (John Lewis/Waitrose)

“Through our partnerships with FareShare and HomeStart we’re aiming to make a big difference to the lives of 100,000 families in the UK,” Bailey continues.

“Each year festive adverts come and go - and some are remembered more vividly than others. But our advertising this year will leave a lasting legacy - and in that way, we hope it won’t just be for Christmas.”

Read more: 200,000 people to join in 'Clap for Carers'-style bell ringing event on Christmas Eve

The advert commissioned eight different artists. (John Lewis/Waitrose)
The advert commissioned eight different artists. (John Lewis/Waitrose)

Customers will be encouraged to give a little love in five different ways; making a charity donation, buying campaign products with 100% of profit donated to the charities, using their loyalty card to increase the Partnership’s donation, giving a little love to someone they know who needs it and helping in their local community.

In another step away from John Lewis’ traditional approach, for the first time the advert includes a specially commissioned song.

British soul singer Celeste wrote and recorded the track, titled A Little Love and 10p from each download will go to the charity campaign.

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