John Lewis Christmas Ad Lands Early With Festive Alien Invasion

Novelty jumpers, mince pies... and an alien. This year's festive John Lewis ad is out of this world.
Who doesn't love a John Lewis Christmas ad?
John Lewis and PartnersPA
Who doesn't love a John Lewis Christmas ad?

Are you ready for Christmas yet? You will be after you see the new John Lewis advert.

The retailer is kicking off the festive season a fortnight earlier than usual with a typically sentimental TV ad – a two-minute tale of a young alien experiencing her first Christmas on earth, complete with obligatory mince pies and a novelty Christmas jumper. Not to mention a stone-cold 80s classic as soundtrack.

Titled the ‘Unexpected Guest’, the story follows space traveller Skye crash-landing festivities in the woods near the home of 14-year-old Nathan, who introduces her to the all important traditions of scoffing mince pies, decorating the tree and, to Skye’s slight confusion, wearing Christmas jumpers.

If you’re wondering about the music, the soundtrack is a cover of the 80s hit, Together In Electric Dreams, by 20-year-old London singer and songwriter Lola Young. Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder’s song reached number three in the singles chart on its release in 1984 – and stayed in the charts for 13 weeks.

John Lewis are clearly trying to tap into public enthusiasm for a traditional Christmas after last year’s “cancelled” celebrations and last minute lockdowns.

This ad is being released a fortnight earlier than usual – with Christmas-related searches on the John Lewis website up 50% on this time last year, the retailer said. Every product shown is from John Lewis, with customers encouraged to “shop key scenes”, including the decorated Christmas tree and dinner table.

John Lewis and PartnersPA

You can even buy a version of the novelty jumper that Nathan gives Skye (minus the twinkly lights shown in the ad) for between £14 and £29 depending on size – with 10% of the profits going to the charities FareShare and Home-Start UK.

If you want to watch the ad broadcast live, it debuts on Thursday at 8.15pm on ITV during the Pride of Britain Awards, though it launched at 8am on the retailer’s website and social media channels.

The clip was created by the adam&eve DDB agency, and while a spokesperson from John Lewis wouldn’t reveal the budget, it said it was in line with previous years’ spending.

In 2020, against a backdrop of Covid-19, John Lewis deviated from the style of its previous ads, with nine different vignettes showing acts of kindness – but not a single mention of the c-word.

This year’s advert could be seen as a return to form, especially given the recent row surrounding a campaign for the brand’s home insurance offering.

The retailer will certainly be hoping to avoid the backlash that came with that ad, which showed a boy wilfully destroying his home and was pulled after the Financial Conduct Authority ruled it could potentially confuse customers about the extent of cover provided.

It could do with a bumper Christmas. The John Lewis partnership, which operates John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, unveiled a £29m pre-tax loss for the half-year to July 31, although this represented an improvement from the £635m loss it posted for the same period in 2020.

“There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time and enjoying your favourite festive moments with loved ones,” John Lewis customer director Claire Pointon told PA News. “After the last 18 months, we wanted our advert to really celebrate this as we look forward to a brighter future.”

Arguably, the real test will be whether the ad can persuade the famously John-Lewis sceptic Carrie Johnson to do her Christmas shopping there.