In this article, we rank the best 10 John Lewis Christmas adverts in chronological order. Now, John Lewis’ Christmas advert is now an annual tradition for the festive season. It’s not unusual for retailers big and small to garner interest ahead of the busy winter season. However, John Lewis would set the benchmark for big-budget, almost cinematic presentations of what it offers.
Note that this rarely offers any more than one or two products. Instead, the focus is on creating the spirit of Christmas through kindness, warmth, generosity and heart. Along the way, the shop would make viewers laugh and cry while creating memories for years to come. There are even some fun characters that would pop up to make the store even more money through merchandise sales.
We also have to mention the music. A key staple of the John Lewis adverts is their use of popular songs with a slow, methodical tone. This has seen the reimagining of vintage tunes for a new generation. We will cover some of these tracks as the list progresses. But needless to say that the store breathes new life into songs that may otherwise remain dormant. It also influences other retailers to do the same, as well as providing exposure for previously-unheard artists. All of this means that having a song for the Xmas ad is a pretty big deal.
Although the store has been around for many years, it was 2007 when its first “true” Xmas ad was launched. Though the early festive ads would garner attention, their commercials would truly become a tradition during the early 2010s. At this stage, viewers would be accustomed to dramatic sing-a-long’s, nostalgia trips and somewhat cringey family gatherings. However, the John Lewis ads would bring a sense of reality and perspective to the festive period.
Yes, it was about selling products, but the store would emphasise how each gift ahs a meaning. And it could take just one special gift to really make somebody’s Christmas. Since then, the store has managed to create some of the most memorable Xmas ads ever. And while some may say that their ads are now formulaic, they still leave an impact. In fact, there are many who feel that the launch of their ad is the beginning of the Christmas season in the UK.
In this regular TV feature, we usually take a look at the top editions of a particular programme. However, this time, we’re slightly deviating from this format. And so today, we’re picking the best John Lewis Christmas adverts. So, what tops our list? Read on to find out! (Note: We aren’t ranking the latest ad for 2021 since it’s brand new and requires time for digestion and analysis.)
Best John Lewis Christmas Adverts
10. A Tribute To Givers
In 2010, we would see a family prepare for Christmas in the usual frantic manner. The primary focus is on the rocking horse that the parents buy for their children. However, it serves to illustrate how anybody can be a giver at Christmas. It’s also fun that Ellie Goulding covers Your Song, since Elton John himself would handle his 1973 hit again in a future ad. More on that shortly.
9. Moz The Monster
Over the years, John Lewis has attempted to provide a lasting impact of its festive offerings. This generally consists of some sort of children’s character that can be used for subsequent merchandise sales. An example of this would come in 2017 with Moz The Monster. Living under a child’s bed, he would become his new friend, until Moz starts to sympathise with keeping his pal awake so late. Therefore, a lamp is the gift of choice so that their adventures can continue. Elbow’s version of Golden Slumbers is the backing track to this one.
8. Excitable Edgar
The 2019 ad would see John Lewis once again try to create a character specifically for its Xmas campaign. Here, it was Edgar, a dragon that nearly burns down his whole village. He’s sent away in shame, but his friend Ava tries to make things right for Edgar. And so the dragon wins back the trust of his townspeople in a fun commercial. This features Can’t Fight This Feeling from Dan Smith. It’s also notable as an ad that promotes both John Lewis and Waitrose. Additionally, the full ad is a whopping 2 ½ minutes long.
7. The Journey
What would Christmas be without a snowman? Few things are as festive as the idea of building, well, a snowman. In 2012, John Lewis’ ad would focus on a snowman, but not in the way you might expect. Instead, this ad is about the snowman’s journey towards buying a Xmas gift. The gift in question is a scarf for his girlfriend (a snowwoman, of course). It’s another ad that reminds us that anybody can give a gift to anybody else. And Gabrielle Aplin’s version of The Power Of Love is fantastic too.
6. Monty The Penguin
In terms of a temporary festive mascot, John Lewis would have more success with Monty The Penguin. In 2014, we would meet Monty as a figment of a child’s imagination as he envisions his toy coming to life. But something isn’t quite right, and the child fixes this on Christmas morning. He does so by providing a female companion for Monty, thus bringing complete happiness for him. Tom Odell’s version of Real Love is the background tune for this ad.
5. The Boy And The Piano
In 2018, John Lewis would incorporate a celebrity, and what a name they would get. Elton John would join in the fun, and it was his version of Your Song as the backing tune. However, the ad is a tale of his growth, starting off with the very first day he could play music. That would be the moment that a piano would make his Christmas Day as a four-year-old. It’s a unique approach, and it’s definitely a memorable offering due to Elton’s starring role.
4. The Long Wait
The 2011 ad is arguably the first one to truly leave a lasting impression. Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want from Slow Moving Millie is the soundtrack. And we see a child trying to contain his excitement and patience as Christmas draws near. However, on the morning of December 25, he immediately gives presents to his parents. It’s a touching piece of advertising and a reminder that the mere gesture of giving is sometimes more than enough.
3. The Bear And The Hare
I like this ad from 2013 because it’s very different from the other John Lewis offerings. This is an animation that could easily come from the late 20th-century era of Disney. And it’s all about a hare wanting to show a bear what Christmas is all about. Bear (see what I did there?) in mind that the bear usually hibernates, so how would he know what Christmas is like? Therefore, the hare’s gift of choice is an alarm clock, allowing the bear to wake up just in time for Xmas. I also love Lily Allen’s version of Somewhere Only We Know, and I actually prefer it to the Keane original.
2. Man On The Moon
If you enjoy the John Lewis Christmas adverts for the tug of the heartstrings, this one is the most memorable. So, the 2015 ad features an old man on the moon with nobody to speak to. A young girl on Earth somehow sees him and feels sorry for him. He can see her, but not very well. Therefore, for Christmas, she buys him a telescope (no word on whether she got free delivery to the moon). And as a result, they can now see one another properly. This ad, which would have the endorsement of Age UK, would feature Aurora’s version of Half The World Away. It’s a brilliant commercial, though it doesn’t reach the #1 spot in this list.
1. Buster The Boxer
The number one spot goes to the 2016 ad that is both humorous and heartwarming. Buster the boxer is a dog that pines for attention amidst the craziness of Christmas shopping. As a trampoline arrives in the back garden, every animal from a fox to a hedgehog gets a sneaky turn, all with Buster moping inside the kitchen. On Christmas morning, the family reveal the trampoline to their son, and he’s ready to jump about and have a laugh. However, that’s when Buster makes his move and dives onto the trampoline, with his own Christmas wish finally becoming true. All of this plays out to One Day I’ll Fly Away by Vaults. It’s a real gem, and in my opinion, it’s the peak of the retailer finding that sweet spot that creates an unforgettable festive commercial.
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So, those are our thoughts on the best John Lewis Christmas adverts of all-time! But what do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below!