John Lewis has released an upbeat tale of a young boy whose grow-your-own Christmas tree turns out to be a mischievous Venus flytrap as it firmly sidesteps the nation’s woes for the festive season.
The highly anticipated advert – a long-established feature of the UK’s festive retail landscape – is titled ‘Snapper, The Perfect Tree’ and follows the boy as he lovingly nurtures the plant from a seed bought at a local market, in the belief he is cultivating a perfect Christmas tree.
The fast-growing plant becomes an equally big personality who wants to join in all the fun of Christmas, before the inevitable tear-jerking moment when he is cast out into the cold to make way for a traditional tree.
However, the boy is determined for Snapper to have a place in the celebrations, which soon sees him back in the fold, as the ad ends with the strapline ‘Let your traditions grow’.
The ad’s soundtrack is an original song called ‘Festa’ – which means celebration – composed for the campaign by Italian electro-pop duo Le Feste Antonacci and performed by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.
The soundtrack will be released in longer form as a charity single, with a proportion of the proceeds going to the John Lewis Partnership’s Building Happier Futures charities, which help young people with experience of the care system and families in need.
Bocelli said: “I am delighted to take part in this wonderful and unique tradition of Christmas storytelling.
“It is very special for me given the great support this will bring to both the John Lewis and Andrea Bocelli foundations. Joy to all of your worlds this Christmas!”
John Lewis declined to reveal a budget for the campaign, which is its first with agency Saatchi and Saatchi, following a partnership with adam&eveDDB stretching back to 2009 that created ads including ‘Monty The Penguin’, ‘The Bear And The Hare’ and ‘Excitable Edgar’.
John Lewis customer director Charlotte Lock said: “We are a nation that loves the traditions of Christmas – from classic traditions like pantos and putting up the tree to evolving new ones like crafting our own presents and Zoom get-togethers.
“Many of us have our own unique festive traditions and that makes them even more special. The film celebrates themes of family and evolving traditions, and shows that a ‘perfect’ Christmas is finding joy together with loved ones, whatever your traditions.”
Sarah Jenkins, managing director at Saatchi & Saatchi, said: “It’s an extraordinary privilege to be working with the John Lewis Partnership, and it’s particularly magical to be launching a campaign that celebrates all of the traditions – both eternal and evolving – that make Christmas so special to the nation.
“The race to be the number one Christmas ad brings extra festive spice and is such a brilliant embodiment of the skills and smarts of the UK’s incredible creative industries. We’re raising a glass to all.”
This year’s ad has a big range of accompanying merchandise, from an £18 plush plant to a £3 Christmas card with seeds and a £9.99 children’s story book.
Snapper will also feature on the Christmas at Kew light trail at the gardens this year.
From December, an AR filter will allow Meta users to bring Snapper into their own homes, while a digital advent calendar on the John Lewis app will see Snapper reward myJL members with exclusive rewards.
This year’s campaign is the last for Dame Sharon White, who is set to step down as the boss of the partnership, which runs the historic department store chain and supermarket chain Waitrose, at the end of her current five-year term, making her the shortest-serving chair in its 100-year history.
The retail group posted a £59m loss for the six months to July and said the five-year transformation plan launched in 2020 will take two years longer than planned.
It posted a £234m loss in the last financial year, forcing it to scrap its annual bonus for staff.
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