U.K. Retailer John Lewis Does Disney With Its Heartwarming Animated Christmas Ad

Two-Minute Whimsical Tale Of a Bear and a Hare Will Be Supported by Product Tie-Ins

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John Lewis -- whose Christmas commercials have become one of the most-anticipated advertising events in the U.K.-- today unveiled its 2013 effort, an animated tale inspired by Disney which tells the story of a hibernating bear waking up for Christmas.

The retailer has taken out an entire two-minute ad break during tomorrow's episode of the U.K. version of "The X Factor" to launch the ad, which was created by adam&Eve/DDB. It was teased in the days running up to the launch with the Twitter hashtag #sleepingbear.

Written by Aidan McClure & Laurent Simon, creative directors at adam&eveDDB, and helmed by Blinkink/Hornet directors Elliot Dear and Yves Geleyn, it uses hand-drawn animation combined with 3D sets -- according to the agency, the first time this technique has been used in a U.K. commercial. The spot tells the story of a bear who has never seen Christmas, because he goes into hibernation as winter falls. His friend the hare is sad about this, so he buys him an alarm clock for Christmas, and he finally gets to see the celebration. Full of whimsically drawn cute animals, it's reminiscent of Disney movies from "Snow White" to "Bambi," but given a contemporary edge by its soundtrack, a cover of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" sung by British pop star Lily Allen in her distinctive London accent.

This year, John Lewis is making the most of its advertising by product tie-ins such as an eBook and hardback book of the bear story, a Christmas-card maker, merchandise such as Bear & Hare toys and onesies. It also will be supported by social media, in-store and window displays, a digital outdoor projection and a single of the soundtrack.

James Murphy, founding partner and CEO of adam&eveDDB, said in a statement: "Not only have we been able to push the campaign into new territory creatively, we've also been able to deliver a truly multifaceted campaign that offers an in-depth take on thoughtful gifting that we hope will appeal to the child in all of us."

The campaign has a lot to live up to: For the past three years, John Lewis's ads have been lauded for their creativity and effectiveness. 2011's "The Long Wait" -- featuring a little boy set to a cover of The Smiths's "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" -- coincided with a 9.3% annual sales lift, while last year's The Journey, set to a cover of "The Power Of Love" By Frankie Goes To Hollywood, was similarly praised and became a YouTube hit. Early reviews from the British media suggest the spot doesn't match up to the 2011 effort in terms of tugging at the heartstrings, but the British public have yet to render their verdict.

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