John Lewis has launched its 2021 Christmas advertising campaign via adam&eveDDB and directed by Aussie expat Mark Molloy.
The two minute advert, entitled ‘Unexpected Guest’, is a joyful story of friendship, which celebrates the magic of Christmas moments experienced for the first time.
John Lewis takes viewers on a magical Christmas journey, all through the eyes of the lead characters, a young boy called Nathan and the space traveller, Skye. Nathan discovers and befriends Skye, who has landed in the woods beside his home. Their friendship develops as Nathan introduces Skye to many of his family’s festive traditions and brings them to life for her in the woods. They decorate the tree with fairy lights, celebrate the tradition of eating and hosting together, as he encourages her to try her first mince pie, and he also introduces her to the joy of thoughtful gifting by giving her his Christmas jumper. Through these shared moments, we see the magic of Christmas through the eyes of someone who has never experienced it before.
This year’s soundtrack to the advert is performed by Lola Young, a 20 year old singer-songwriter from South London. The track ‘Together in Electric Dreams’, originally released by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder in 1984, was chosen as a celestial compliment to the advert. Lola is a brilliant up and coming British talent, she was chosen for her rich and unique sound which brings to life the magic of the advert and the friendship that develops on screen.
This year’s ad follows the story of Nathan, a 14 year old boy on his way home from school who spots a flashing light in the distance and chases it to the woods beside his home; it is here that he encounters 14 year old space traveller, Skye and her ship from another galaxy. The ice is broken as Nathan adapts his own Christmas jumper by adding a star and twinkly lights – just like Skye’s. The pair spark a friendship and as Nathan helps her to discover the magic of her first Christmas.
Nathan then introduces her to some of his favourite Christmas moments, bringing her fairy lights from his family’s tree, amazingly she is able to power them herself with her super powers. After a festive meal with family and friends, Nathan brings Skye a mince pie, and she delights at trying this for the first time. Together, their friendship grows while watching Christmas films and playing in the snow.
The time comes when Skye has fixed her ship and must return to her home planet and the pair are to be separated. It is a bittersweet, heartwarming moment where Nathan gifts her his Christmas jumper, the same one he was wearing when they first met, and the pair say goodbye just before she boards her ship. As Skye leaves, she disappears into the night sky and leaves a twinkling star on a Christmas tree in the distance. Watching all through her eyes reminds us of the magic of a first Christmas, and the moments that matter.
This year, 3.7m My John Lewis members saw the advert via their exclusive email access before it launched on the website and social media channels. The ad then aired on TV on Thursday evening at on ITV, in a special premiere during The Pride of Britain Awards.
Says Claire Pointon, director of customer, John Lewis: “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.”
Says Lola Young, singer: “I feel super honoured to be a part of this, growing up I always watched the John Lewis Christmas adverts, they’re iconic and so it kinda feels surreal getting asked to be in one. It also means a lot as an up and coming artist to be a part of something this special. Together In Electric Dreams is a very beautiful song. I love that era of music and I think Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder are incredible. The lyric and soul within the song is something inspirational, fitting to the story within the ad. I feel so excited to be covering it and working with John Lewis.”
This year, the story of John Lewis’ advert will be brought to life for customers in its ten Christmas Emporiums, where they will be able to get up close to Skye’s ship and create and share an interactive gif on social media. To celebrate the ad, there will be two Snapchat lenses available on the day of launch; the first, a selfie lens, which lets you become a space-traveller like Skye and the second is an outward facing lens, which lets the users play with Skye’s spaceship in their very own world.
A version of Nathan’s Christmas jumper that he gifts to Skye will be available in shops and on johnlewis.com in mens, womens and childrens sizes (£14-£29); we will donate 10% of the profits for each jumper sold equally to our Give a Little Love charities FareShare and Home-Start UK. The advert will also be easy to explore and shop on the website, all the products featured in the advert are from John Lewis, customers will be able to shop key scenes and make purchases directly from them.
As a first for John Lewis this year, My John Lewis Members will also be able to interact with the advert, they will have exclusive access to a virtual experience on the app and website, ‘Unexpected Guest: The Experience’. Members will be able to take on the character of Nathan and explore the world of the advert through his eyes, discovering AR characters and downloadable prizes for children such as printable toys and activities. There will also be hidden characters from our previous adverts waiting to be found. John Lewis will be dropping new and exclusive content within the game on a weekly basis such as behind the scenes footage not seen anywhere else.
Creative agency: adam&eveDDB
Chief Creative Officer: Richard Brim
Joint Chief Executive Officer: Tammy Einav
Managing Director: Paul Billingsley
Creative Directors: Matt Gay, Feargal Ballance
Copywriters: Matt Gay, Feargal Ballance, Patrick McClelland
Art Directors: Matt Gay, Feargal Ballance
Executive Producer: Sally Pritchett
Integrated Producer: Clio McLeary
Assistant Producer: Claire Peacock
Project Manager: Amy Waldman
Designer / Typographer: Dave Robinson/ King Henry
Head of Integrated Production: Ben Sharpe
Head of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion: Bukola Garry
Chief Strategy Officer: Martin Beverley
Planning Partner: Hugh DeWinton
Senior Planner: Sian Iles
Business Director: Jo Lorimer
Account Director: Charlie Poole
Account Managers: Emily Bristowe
Business Affairs: Layla Husted, Lois Edwards, Gemma Davies
Legal Counsel: Candice Macleod, Tom Campbell, Trine Odin
Production Company: Smuggler
Producer: Ewen Brown
Production Manager: Marketa Husecka
Director: Mark Molloy
DOP: Greig Fraser
Production Designer: Nathan Parker
Costume Designer: Rosa Dias
Hair & Makeup Artist: Michele Baylis
Casting: Ali Fearnley
Editing Company: Work Editorial
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Edit Assistant: Rain Keene
Editing Producer: Ellie McNaughtan
Post Production: nineteentwenty
VFX Supervisor: Bill McNamara
2DVFX Supervisor & Creative Director: Ludo Fealy
CGVFX Supervisor: Ben Thomas
2D Artists: Jamie Stitson, Adam McHale, Humayun Mirza, Nicole Palucsis, Jessica Hayes, David Ince, Joseph Dymond, Chrys Aldred, Matt Hutchins
3D Artists: Ivan Tomovic, Andrew Maccabe, Alison Stott, James White, Guido Pagotto, Mike Farrar, David Rencsenyi
DMP & Environment Artists: Emilis Baltrusaitis, Aurelien Ronceray
Motion Graphics: Anthony Scott
Concept: Jake Lunt Davies, Nathan McKenna
Colourist: Kai Van Beers
Colour Assist: Elliott Ward
VFX Producer: David Keegan
Music Supervisor: Leland Music
Audio Post Production: Factory
Sound Engineer: Anthony Moore
Sound Producer: Beth Massey
Music Supervisors: Abi Leland, Ed Bailie, Toby Williams/ Leland Music
Composers: Philip Oakey, Giorgio Moroder
Artist: Lola Young
Music Producer: David Kosten
Master: Universal Music Publishing, Island Records
Publishers: BMG Rights Management (UK), Warner Chappell North America Limited
Media Agency: OMD
Client: John Lewis & Partners
Director of Customer: Claire Pointon
Director of Creative and Content: Matt Richmond
Head of Brand Marketing: Rosie Hanley
Advertising Lead: Emma Wood
Senior Advertising Manager: Holly Kicul
Senior Advertising Executive: Rebecca Stevens
Senior Advertising Executive: Ellie Smith