LONDON, UK — John Lewis launches its 2021 Christmas advertising campaign. 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. Customers are more excited than ever for Christmas, craving joyful moments, togetherness, and escapism as so many were unable to celebrate with loved ones last year.
In the campaign film, viewers are taken on a magical Christmas journey, all through the eyes of the lead characters, a young boy called Nathan and the space traveler, 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 complement 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.
THE ‘UNEXPECTED GUEST’ STORY
Created in partnership with adam&eveDDB, 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 we watch as Nathan helps her to discover the magic of her first Christmas.
We then see Nathan introduce her to some of his favorite Christmas moments, bringing her fairy lights from his family’s tree, amazingly she is able to power them herself with her superpowers. 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.
PREMIERE ON ITV
This year, 3.7m My John Lewis members were given exclusive access to the advert via their email from 6.30 am before it officially launched on John Lewis’ website and social media channels at 8 am. The ad first aired on TV through ITV, in a special premiere during The Pride of Britain Awards.
Claire Pointon, Director of Customer says, “There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time and enjoying your favorite 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.”
Lola Young, Singer says “I feel super honored 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.”
EXPERIENCE THE ADVERT IN SHOPS, THROUGH OUR APP, WEBSITE AND ON SNAPCHAT
This year, the story of our advert will be brought to life for customers in our 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 our shops and on johnlewis.com in men’s, women’s, and children’s 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 our 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 us 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. We’ll be dropping new and exclusive content within the game on a weekly basis such as behind-the-scenes footage not seen anywhere else.
MEDIA PLANNING & BUYING AGENCY
TEAM BEHIND THE ADVERT
Production company: Smuggler
Producer: Ewen Brown
Production Manager: Marketa Husecka
Director: Mark Molloy
D.O.P: Greig Fraser
Production Designer: Nathan Parker
Costume Designer: Rosa Dias
Hair & Makeup Artist: Michele Baylis
Casting: Ali Fearnley