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Enduring adam&eveDDB Christmas Commercials

For British retail stores the Christmas season is a prime opportunity to take center stage with some of the best commercials in any given year.

Planned long in advance, the commercials are always highly anticipated by audiences of all ages, and play out in a highly competitive arena of discerning viewers expressing their critical ‘likes and dislikes’ on social media.

Spanning many years, Advertising Agency adam&eveDDB, London, has been the remarkably successful agency of record for high-end, retail department store brands, John Lewis, Waitrose, and the Harvey Nichols high-end, fashion store.

The 7 Cannes Grand Prix awards for their Christmas commercials, produced for the aforementioned stores, bear ample testimony to the creative excellence of adam&eveDDB’s enduring communication artistry, and globally accrued acclaim.

A quote by DDB’s founding partner and famed Copywriter, Bill Bernbach, springs to mind again. “The difference between the forgettable and the enduring is artistry”.

1. John Lewis & Partner Waitrose, Give A Little Love 2020

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

The ‘Give A Little Love’ Christmas campaign aims to motivate customers to buy campaign brands that have committed to donating 100 percent of their profits towards the goal of raising £4 million in support of charities FareShare and Home-Start, that help people facing food poverty and assists parents.

On the Muse by Clio’s online portal, executive director of John Lewis, Pippa Wicks, succinctly summed up the moral initiative behind the compassionate campaign’s drive to make a crucial difference to the lives of 100,000 families in need of support:

“The pandemic has proved that it’s our small acts of love and kindness, particularly in challenging times, that captures what it is to be human; and when one small act of kindness multiplies it can have a lasting impact.”

Directed by filmmaker Oscar Hudson, the commercial of nine vignettes, embraces a production mix of animation, clay-mation, and CGI cinematography.

Eight different artists were engaged for their specialised creative disciplines that included music video director Chris Hopewell, and French animator Sylvain Chomet.

The soundtrack features an original song, written and recorded by British soul singer Celeste, titled “A Little Love”.

2. John Lewis & Partner Waitrose, Eva and Excitable Edgar 2019

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

Filmmaker and Director Dougal Wilson’s masterful storytelling skill comes to the fore in this charming Christmas viewing fare for the whole family.

The Integrated campaign about friendship and caring, includes in-store merchandising of a variety of ‘Excitable Edgar’ gift offerings.

The soundtrack of Hugh Brunt and Mara Carlyle’s music arrangement, performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra, features the classic Bastille band’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, by lead singer Dan Smith.

3. John Lewis & Partner Waitrose, Bohemian Rhapsody 2018

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

The John Lewis Partnership Trust, the parent company of the John Lewis high-end retail department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, in 2018 undertook a major rebranding exercise aimed at creating an effective synergy in coss-branding integration between the two stores.

The retailers were renamed Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners as part of a concerted drive for a greatly enhanced customer service, and the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ commercial, was released to mark their rebranding launch.

Directed by filmmaker Dougal Wilson who skillfully elicits sterling performances from his cast of 82 children and 11 adults, the charming story, filmed over 5 eventful days along with Queen’s resonant ‘Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack, makes for utterly delightful viewing.

4. John Lewis & Partners, The Boy and The Piano 2018

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

Filmmaker Seb Edwards directed the London agency’s tenth festive season campaign for the John Lewis & Partners retail store chain.

The excellently crafted scenario relates how the power of a thoughtful, loving Christmas gift can be inspiringly formative and influential in a young child’s future direction in life.

The commercial stars Elton John who looks back to that Christmas morning in his youth when he received a special gift that changed his life.

He described the commercial as; “a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing a piano, marks the moment when music came into my life”.

“The ad is absolutely fantastic and I’ve truly loved every minute of being a part of it”.

In the spirit of Christmas gift offerings, Elton donated a generous portion of his fee to the Elton John Charitable Trust.

5. John Lewis, Moz The Monster 2017

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London UK

Academy award-winning screenwriter Michel Gondry directed this 2017 Christmas commercial that involved a huge ‘Sesame Street’ inspired puppet operated by two people inside and filmed live in a London studio.

The soundtrack features a classic Beatles song, ‘Golden Slumbers’ from the 1969 Abbey Road album that was re-recorded by rock band Elbow for the commercial.

John Lewis’s customer director Craig Inglis, explained the communication rationale of the integrated campaign:

“This year’s Christmas campaign brings to life the power of children’s imaginations and the joy of great friendships. Moz and Joe’s story is magical and heartwarming”.

The commercial motivated 18,260 mentions in the first three hours following its release with many viewers proclaiming it to be the best John Lewis Christmas commercial ever. But some, feeling that the story was a bit lacking in festive spirit and mood, were not that generous with their praise.

6. John Lewis & Partners, Buster the Boxer 2016

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

Directed by filmmaker Dougal Wilson the commercial according to Campaign magazine was the most shared on social media in 2016. It motivated 137 million views in the first week of its festive season campaign’s launch.

Chief Marketing Officer of Brandwatch, Will McInnis, summed up the campaign’s consumer appeal as follows:

“As marketers, we know that a great ad is all about eliciting emotions. It’s classic big brand storytelling, meets distribution in the social age”.

“Essentially people won’t share boring content and John Lewis knows it. In a world where our attention is pulled in so many different directions, it’s a reminder that a good story still matters”.

The soundtrack, which features a cover version of Randy Crawford’s 1980 hit, ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’, performed by British electronic trio the ‘Vaults’, was recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios and topped the YouTube’s annual festive leaderboard globally.

7. John Lewis & Partners, Man on The Moon 2015

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

The John Lewis store chain partnered with Age, UK, in a public awareness campaign about the exacerbated feelings of loneliness many elderly people experience during the festive season.

Campaign Magazine named filmmaker Kim Gehrig as ‘Director of The Year’ for her ‘Man on The Moon commercial. The emotive, metaphorical story is about the awakening of societal consciousness to not ‘lose sight’ of the isolation and familial exclusion of the elderly, and to motivate warm-hearted, and much-needed remedial responses.

The soundtrack features the Oasis hit ‘Half the World Away’ by Norwegian Singer/Songwriter, Aurora.

8. Harvey Nichols, Avoid Gift Face 2015

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

Directed by filmmaker Tim Bullock, this amusing commercial is a story about a human insight I’m sure we all can relate to.

It’s about that expectant moment of opening a gift and discovering that you hate it, but out of politeness had to pretend that you loved it by putting on your best ‘gift face’ expression.

In fact, a survey revealed that 72 percent of adults in Britain admitted to having pulled a “gift face” to save the feelings of a loved one, and 63 percent admitted to wearing or using an unwanted gift after Christmas to keep up the pretense.

According to Campaign magazine, ‘Gift Face’ was the most engaging campaign of the 2015 festive season.

9. John Lewis & Partners, Monty The Penguin 2014

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London UK

Superbly directed by filmmaker Dougal Wilson, this 2014 Cannes Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix, and Film Craft Grand Prix winner was described by jury president Andrew Robertson as follows:

“Everything the Cannes festival stands for. It’s beautiful, emotional work for a retail brand that was proven to have contributed to revenue growth of 132 million pounds”.

‘Monty The Penguin’ motivated 212,000 tweets, 165,000 ‘shares’ on Facebook, and online views across all social channels totaled 29 million of which 22 million came from YouTube. Overall, the campaign delivered a staggering 568 million impressions.

The integrated campaign included a ‘Monty App’ that hit the ‘iTunes Kids’ chart top spot with more than 500,000 interactive sessions.

10. John Lewis & Partners, The Bear and The Hare 2013

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

The 2013 animated story of ‘The Bear and The Hare’ with its evocative soundtrack of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Lily Allan, was one of the most popular Christmas commercials of all time.

Loved by audiences young and old, the commercial serves as a charming demonstration of how effectively emotive the ageless art of animation can be.

Led by former Disney animator Aaron Blaise, the hand-drawn animation took six months to create by a studio of Florida-based artists, and was combined with a set built in a South London studio, where a decades old animation technique was revived to achieve the desired enchanting imagery.


11. Harvey Nichols, Sorry, I Spent It On Myself 2013

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

The following commercial, brilliantly directed by James Rouse, is an amusing tongue-in cheek story and part of a clever, excellently crafted, integrated advertising and marketing campaign.

The insightful truth is that sometimes, one is reluctant about spending money on family gifts, and cautious about being too generous, but have no such qualms when buying a Christmas gift for one’s self.

At the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, the Harvey Nichols campaign won an Integrated Grand Prix, a Film Grand Prix, a Press Grand Prix, and a Promo & Activation Grand Prix, making it one of the most awarded campaigns in the festival’s history.


12. Harvey Nichols, Avoid A Same Dress Disaster 2012

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London, UK

Directed by Jake Knight and Ryoko Tanaka, the filmmaking Ne-O duo, the commercial depicts, with insightful humour, a nightmare scenario of what every woman fears; turning up at a party wearing the same dress as someone else.

The surreal dramatisation of the ‘if looks could kill’ metaphor, and the chaos caused by the same dress ‘shoot-outs’, makes for highly entertaining viewing.