Elton John John Lewis

Elton John Becomes The New Soundtrack To A John Lewis Christmas

For many of us, Christmas season has not officially arrived until we see our first John Lewis holiday commercial. It has become tradition much like the turkey dinner and the stuffing that highlights most Christmas dinner tables.

In fact, the new John Lewis Christmas Ad brings about as much excitement and anticipation as the annual onslaught of SuperBowl commercials do in North America. The main difference here being cost and purpose.

However, the 2018 John Lewis Christmas entry would have cost somewhat more than usual. That’s because it has taken a slight detour from the traditional path that has been followed to date with this high-end UK-based department store chain. Sure, it has all of the typical Christmas flavours but instead of Old Saint Nick, it features Old Sir Elton (John).

Don’t get me wrong.

I see the connection, kind of. Elton’s lengthy farewell tour – a musician who has created a lot of happiness over a very, very long career – and a business that dates back to 1864. So I would say both have a level of tradition and sophistication that creates a parallel of sorts.

Okay. Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but when you think about it, Sir Elton has paid his dues many times over. So I see the John Lewis & Partners contribution as a tip of the hat and a nod to greatness.

John’s extremely well-known tune, “Your Song” is the choice above any seasonal music for this Ad. It was also used in the 2010 entry into the Christmas season Ad run. But why this shift in gears and direction?

According to Partner and Customer Director for John Lewis, Craig Inglis, there is a story in each of us about that one Christmas gift that transformed our lives. The story in the Elton John Ad happens to be built around his first piano – a gift – and traces his life from that point to the present day.

The Ad, which was directed by Academy Films’ Seb Edwards, tells that story and attempts to touch us all in a way that normal – or at least the current barrage of – Christmas commercials don’t and usually can’t.

I see it as a leap of faith, trying to recycle back to the true meaning of Christmas – giving something meaningful from the heart that builds dreams. Hey, I’m a bit of a dreamer and I get that message through this commercial.

Whether or not this is the start of a new traditional path of ads for John Lewis remains to be seen. However, as much as I am expecting to see reindeer and tinsel in the 2019 Christmas Ad, part of me also hopes I’m wrong and they create another touching instalment.

Christmas marketing is not an easy game to play. There is a lot at stake and either you make it or you don’t. The gutsy move by John Lewis to veer into new territory at a traditional time of year I suspect has been carefully calculated and will pay huge dividends.

At the very least, it’s a fitting tribute to Elton. Hopefully most see more in the message than that.


Agency: adam&eveDDB
Production company: Academy Films
Director: Seb Edwards