John Lewis Holiday AdIt’s the holiday season. Boo bee doo. And with the holiday season comes all of the holiday ads. Most are at best tolerable, some are just in your face. But most are solely focused on the buy. “Buy this! You will (insert adjective here).” Some tug at nostalgia but always wrap a solid product placement in because, well…you know. Then there are a few gems every season that get it. They get what the holiday season is REALLY about and they tell a story.

A perennial great at holiday storytelling is John Lewis. John Lewis, for those who are not familiar, is a chain of upscale department stores operating throughout Great Britain. They came up with yet another winner last season with Monty the Penguin’s story.

Yes, John Lewis is selling stuffed penguins among a million other things. And it’s long for a TV ad at over 2 minutes. But the story of the little boy wanting his favorite stuffed animal to have a friend is really sweet. Sweet like candy but it is the holidays. More importantly though, the story (and the charming little penguin) hook you in until the end. The sparse falsetto performance of John Lennon’s “Real Love” by Tom Odell was the perfect soundtrack to carry the story as well. In addition, all profits from the CD sales of the song with benefit WWF’s Adopt a Penguin Program. So it’s a win, win.

Another really amazing one from last year was Sainsbury’s Christmas Ad. Sainsbury’s is the third largest chain of supermarkets in the United Kingdom. The ad depicts the remarkable true story of real events from 100 years ago that took place on Christmas Day during World War I. On that day soldiers on both sides put down their weapons, emerged from their trenches, sang songs and even exchanged gifts.



I’ve always been amazed by this story and only more so after watching this ad by Sainsbury’s. Even in war, the most awful side of humanity, there can be an event like this shows that we may still have hope. The message is simple, that Christmas is for sharing. The ad is nearly 4 minutes long but again, it’s engaging and the cinematography is absolutely stunning. The ad was created to benefit the Royal British Legion which is a charity that assists service men and women, veterans and their families.

Did anyone else realize that both the ads were from the UK? Maybe someday US retailers will take note as well. The point is, it’s cold outside and everyone deserves to have their heart warmed and to swell three sizes larger during the holiday season. In the sea of “BUY! BUY! BUY!” doesn’t it make sense to do something extraordinary? To say something? To provoke good feelings and warm tidings? Tis’ the season…



Eric Guerin is the founder of Adelie Studios. He chooses to use his creative powers for good and not evil by helping businesses to better market themselves using animated marketing videos. He can easily be bribed with coffee. Read more of Eric’s posts