The long wait for John Lewis’ 2017 Christmas advert is over. And the department store’s latest holiday showpiece from adam&eveDDB brings plenty of charm and craft, even if it doesn’t quite pack the emotional punch of classics like “Monty the Penguin.”
The two-minute spot stars a young boy named Joe who is freaked out to find a monster under his bed as Christmas is approaching. Soon, though, he befriends the creature, named Moz, and they start to play together at night, when Joe should be sleeping.
Soon enough, the extracurriculars catch up with Joe, who can barely stay awake during the day. But Moz has a plan to help Joe on Christmas morning…
Michel Gondry directed the spot, whose monster theme recalls the work of his mentor Spike Jonze on Where the Wild Things are. The craft is remarkable—the spot is so visually rich, it practically feels like it’s glowing. And many of the details are wonderful, from the snoring that can move toys to the present terribly wrapped in brown paper.
The song is also perfect—a cover of “Golden Slumbers” by the Beatles, as recorded by the British band Elbow. (John Lewis makes good use Beatles covers, having used “Real Love” so memorably in “Monty the Penguin” from 2014.)
Reaction to the ad was somewhat mixed this morning in the U.K., but partly that’s because the bar is always so high for this company’s Christmas spots. Complaints include it not being “Christmassy” enough, and the ending not being as heartwarming as the retailer would hope.
The latter complaint is fair, to a degree. Nightlights do make monsters go away, but making a friend disappear—even if it means getting more sleep—isn’t much of an uplifting moment (even if the spot plays up Moz’s good intentions to the hilt, then hints at the end that he hasn’t really gone away at all).
Despite the conceptual hiccups, the spot is still a gorgeous and charming addition to this agency and client’s legacy of affecting holiday work.
As usual, the campaign will include all sorts of other materials—most intriguing, perhaps, being an unusual store window at the John Lewis flagship shop on Oxford Street that will fart and snore just like Moz. (In the press materials, John Lewis amusingly notes that it is “thought to be the world’s first farting and snoring window.”)
Facebook users will be able to “Mozify” their faces using their Facebook camera, and 10 John Lewis stores will feature Monster Maker stations where customers will be able to create their own monster selfies.
An audio version of the story, read by actress Sally Phillips, will be available for download from johnlewis.com, Sky boxes and Google Home devices. (Google Home users will be able to personalize their story with their own sounds effects.) The “Golden Slumbers” cover will be included in Elbow’s “Best Of” album, out Nov. 24.
There are also Moz toys and mugs, and a portion of proceeds from their sale will go to Barnardo’s, the charity that protects vulnerable children and young people.
“Moz the Monster” will air on TV for the first time tonight at 9.30 p.m. on Channel 4 in the U.K., and around the same time on all Sky’s own channels.
Below, check out all of John Lewis’ Christmas ads dating back to 2011.
Client: John Lewis
Spot: “Moz the Monster”
Director: Michel Gondry
Production Company: Partizan
Media Planning and Buying: Manning Gottlieb
Editing: Whitehouse Post
Postproduction and CGI: The Mill