The holiday season in Britain doesn't really start until department-store retailer John Lewis releases its Christmas ad. Today, it did just that—adding another chapter in a long list of sentimental favorites.
This year's spot, from adam&eveDDB, is pure fantasy, starring a countryside snowman who will travel to the ends of the earth—or at least, to London—to show the depths of his love for his snowwoman. And by love, we mean buying her some expensive and pretty-looking stuff. Set to an ethereal version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "The Power of Love," sung here by Gabrielle Aplin, the commercial doesn't skimp on the treacly tugging of heartstrings. The snowman, who is somehow ambulatory and can also change his facial expressions at will, encounters all sorts of obstacles on his quest, from rivers to mountains to the frightening bustle of the city. But he's undaunted, and returns to bequeath his beloved with the most romantically sensible gift he can find—a good set of hat, scarf and mittens.
The commercial is actually quite a departure for the retailer, whose renowned Christmas spots—typically set to an interesting cover verson of a well-known song—are almost always rooted in reality, telling slice-of-life tales about human love and the joy of giving. Last year's spot was particularly successful, with a great story and a nice little twist at the end. By comparison, this year's entry feels a little flat—with emotions that come off as cool and constructed as the snowmen themselves. As these spots always are, this one is nicely shot and composed, yet it can't escape feeling generic—an overly simplified fable that fails to match the more nuanced and touching work from years past.
Everyone in Britain wants a truly great John Lewis ad for Christmas. Unfortunately, this time, they'll have to wait until next year at least.
Client: John Lewis
Agency: Adam & Eve/DDB, London
Creatives: Frank Ginger, Shay Reading
Executive Creative Directors: Ben Priest, Ben Tollett, Emer Stamp
Production Company: Blink Productions
Director: Dougal Wilson
Editorial: Final Cut
Editor: Joe Guest
See the John Lewis spots from past Christmases below: