John Lewis Christmas ad all about kindness in a COVID weary world

john lewis christmas 2020

This year’s John Lewis Christmas ad is all about kindness in a world made weary by a host of divisive challenges all heralded by the coronavirus pandemic.

In what’s turned into an annual TV event, this year’s ad from the ‘never knowingly undersold’ retailer, features two cute kids in a part live action, part illustration, part animation feast.

John Lewis and Waitrose

The campaign is actually for both Waitrose and John Lewis and was inspired by the kindness shown by the British public during the pandemic. The ad encourages viewers to give a little love to others.

It’s just one element of a major campaign by the two retailers, which launched on Thursday, National Kindness Day, under the strapline ‘Give A Little Love’. The campaign aims to make a lasting difference to some of those hit hardest during 2020.

Together, John Lewis and Waitrose are aiming to raise £4m for two charities: FareShare, which helps those facing food poverty and Home-Start, which works with parents who need support.  £1m will also be donated by shop Partners to charities who support families in their local communities.

The charities will use these donations to provide food, comfort, emotional support and advice to at least 100,000 families in need.

Since the pandemic started FareShare has had to double the amount of food it distributes to meet the rising demand, and over one third of Home-Start centres have seen an increase in demand for its services.

adam&eveDDB creation

The story of ‘Give A Little Love’ was created by advertising agency adam&eveDDB.

A two-minute ad is designed to inspire the nation to give a little love to those around them, while a complimentary 30 second ad carries a direct call to support the two charities.

Customers will be encouraged to give a little love in five different ways; making a charity donation, buying campaign products with 100% of profit donated to the charities, using their loyalty card to increase the Partnership’s donation, giving a little love to someone they know who needs it and helping in their local community.

Customer donations up to the value of £2m will be match funded by a donation from the John Lewis Partnership. A further fund of over £1m has also been created to ensure all of the retailers’ shops will be actively partnering with FareShare and Home-Start and a range of local family charities in the communities they serve.

Multiformat film

The two minute advert is a celebration of different forms of moving art – from animation and claymation to CGI and cinematography.

It is made up of nine different vignettes created by eight different artists who are leading experts in their particular art, including Chris Hopewell, who has created music videos for Radiohead and Franz Ferdinand, and French animator Sylvain Chomet.

john lewis christmas ad
All kinds of everything: Cosy Christmas ad in multiple formats

The scenes are connected to create a long chain of giving, as each film passes the campaign’s heart emblem on to the next part of the film.

The storyline illustrates how acts of kindness, large and small, can multiply and positively impact the world in which we live as we pass them on to others. The different ‘moments’ of kindness captured in the film are designed to appeal to different audiences, from children upwards.

John Lewis said the unique approach was chosen in a spirit of kindness towards the creative industry, which has been hard hit by the pandemic.

Instead of a single production team, multiple artists were selected, giving employment to many people across the creative industry.

The 30 second complementary advert was created by four post-graduate students from Kingston University who were chosen for their distinctive styles, which are joyful, yet humble.

Both adverts were directed by acclaimed British director Oscar Hudson.

New song first

In another step away from its traditional approach, for the first time a new song was commissioned for the Christmas campaign.

Written and recorded by British soul singer, Celeste, the song is also called ‘A Little Love’.

Last year, she won a Brit Award and in January this year she was crowned BBC Music’s Sound of 2020.  Every time the track is downloaded Celeste and her record label Polydor will make a 10p donation to the campaign.

James Bailey, Executive Director of Waitrose, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the growing inequalities across the country, with those who are already most vulnerable disproportionately impacted. Through our partnerships with FareShare and HomeStart we’re aiming to make a big difference to the lives of 100,000 families in the UK.

Pippa Wicks, Executive Director of  John Lewis, said: “We recently set out  our ambition for our business to be a force for good – so we decided that this year was the year to break the mould and do something different.

“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.

Families “running on empty”

Peter Grigg, Chief Executive at Home-Start, said: “Families are running on empty. The pandemic has been hard for all families, but it’s been toughest on those already facing challenges around mental health, low incomes, and other challenges in their lives.

“I have been overwhelmed by the kindness shown in our communities during the pandemic, but I know there is so much more to do.

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive at FareShare, said: “This year has been incredibly tough for so many and FareShare has seen the need for our food skyrocket.

“The number of charities and community groups applying to receive food through FareShare has more than doubled and 90% of the organisations we work with expect demand to remain the same as at peak crisis levels, or even increase through the winter.

“We continue to provide over two million meals per week to vulnerable communities across the UK, and more than two thirds of the food we distribute goes to children and families, so we know that there is a real need for our work at this time.”

Commenting on her song Celeste said: “I felt honoured to be asked to take part. I wanted to create something that felt classic but still true to who I am as a writer and performer.”

The adverts – which went live on social media channels at 7am on Thursday – will first be broadcast on TV Friday evening during ‘The Voice’ on ITV.