John Lewis’ 2020 Christmas Ad Is a Charmingly Animated Ode to Sharing Kindness

UK retailer's ad with sister brand Waitrose celebrates the spirit of generosity

The spot features the work and styles of multiple animators. John Lewis and Waitrose
Headshot of David Griner

An annual advertising tradition has returned: the John Lewis holiday ad.

Technically it’s a combined ad for the John Lewis and Waitrose and Partners sister brands, but long before their 2019 merger, retailer John Lewis had developed a reputation and expectation for iconic Christmas work like Monty the Penguin and Moz the Monster. Last year, John Lewis told the story of a dragon who gets a little too excited about Christmas.

So does this year’s installment—once again from London agency adam&eveDDB—live up to the annual anticipation?

We’ll let you decide for yourself. It’s certainly a different approach for the retailer, which instead of telling one story this year creates an animated anthology of sorts featuring work from an array of artists. But the theme is one that’s certainly universal in 2020: the importance of sharing kindness and love.

The 2-minute spot features the work of eight artists, including Chris Hopewell, who has created music videos for Radiohead and Franz Ferdinand, and French animator Sylvain Chomet. 

The overarching holiday campaign aims to raise 4 million pounds (about $5.2 million) for charities, with all profits from related merchandise being matched by the John Lewis Foundation. An additional 1 million pounds will be donated to local branches of two charities helping families in need, FareShare and Home-Start.

The spot was directed by Oscar Hudson, a rising star honored in Saatchi & Saatchi’s New Directors Showcase in 2017 and who directed Apple’s 2019 “Bounce” spot for AirPods.

Animators who worked on the ad were Chris Hopewell, Andy Gent, Anthony Farquhar Smith, Sylvain Chomet, Anete Melece, MegaComputeur, Anna Mantzaris and Shotopops.

The soundtrack is called “Give a Little Love” by British singer Celeste.

A related 30-second ad, animated by Kingston University postgraduate students Amelia Fowler, Marta Pinto, Leksey Lee and Bella McEvoy, highlights the charities being benefitted by the campaign.

“We have a long tradition of helping support the communities which we serve, so as we launch one of the best loved assets, our Christmas ad, it’s fitting to take this one step further by working hand in hand with two incredible charities supporting families in need,” said Pippa Wicks, executive director of John Lewis. “We were humbled by the kindness shown by the British public during the pandemic. We want this campaign to be uplifting and to inspire everyone to give some kindness in their own way this Christmas, especially to those who need it most.”


@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
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