You’d think it had been happening for a lifetime, but it’s actually not much more than five years since the launch of the John Lewis ad became Britain’s official signal that Christmas has begun. Despite all the hype and temptation to produce something “different,” the department store chain has stuck consistently to its strategy of immersing the population in a tidal wave of emotion.
This year’s ad tells the story of a little girl who, using a telescope, spots a solitary house in a crater on the moon. She sees an old man living there alone, and tries several times to make contact with him. Naturally, there is a touching ending, which we would not dream of spoiling.
The “Man on the Moon” campaign carries the tagline, “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas,” and also includes a partnership between John Lewis and the charity Age UK, aimed at drawing attention to the million older British people who go for long periods of time without talking to anyone. The department store will run a number of initiatives throughout November and December to support the charity.
The ad echoes the emotional feel of last year’s Monty the Penguin. John Lewis customer director, Craig Inglis, says in a statement the brand’s holiday spots are always about “going the extra mile to give someone the perfect gift”. Previous commercials include 2013’s The Bear & the Hare, 2012’s The Journey, and 2011’s The Long Wait, which could be regarded as the one that took John Lewis’s Christmas ads to a different level.
This year’s two-minute film was created, as usual, by ad agency adam&eveDDB, and was directed by Kim Gehrig, whose recent work includes This Girl Can, for Sport England. There is also a Man on the Moon app and a range of moon-related paraphernalia available in-store and via the John Lewis website, but no space suits or rockets, alas.
The now established tradition of a female covering a hit track is executed this year by relatively unknown but critically acclaimed 19-year-old Norwegian Aurora Aksnes, who takes on the Oasis track, Half The World Away.
All that remains now is to see who makes the best parody.