Elton John and his piano take a trip down memory lane in the John Lewis Christmas ad

Film recreates some of the singer’s career-defining moments

Published On
Nov 15, 2018

Editor's Pick

John Lewis takes Elton John on an epic trip down memory lane in its Christmas ad this year.

The latest much-anticipated production from Adam&Eve/DDB sees the iconic British singer, along with five different actors portraying him, playing the piano at different stages from his life. Throughout, he wears memorable costumes and performs moves from some of his career-defining moments.

The film, directed by Seb Edwards at Academy Films, opens on John himself playing the first notes of “Your Song” in a quiet living room, but then turns back in time as we see him as an '80s superstar, performing in stadium concerts in the' 70s, hitting the keys in a pub, appearing at a school concert as a boy and finally, as a young child being thrilled to receive his grandmother’s piano as a Christmas gift.

The tagline is "more than just a gift" and the message of the ad is that a gift can alter the course of someone’s life (an idea we’ve also coincidentally seen this year from online retailer Very).  While not perhaps as overtly heartwarming as some of John Lewis' past oeuvre, the nostalgic spot will likely tugs at hearts aplenty, especially those of his fans.  A biopic of the singer is due to come out next year, but John Lewis said the ad had no connection to that. 

Craig Inglis, Partner and Customer Director, John Lewis & Partners, comments in a statement: “Think back to all of the Christmases that you have enjoyed over the years--I’m sure there is one very special gift that stands out above all others. That’s the magical feeling we wanted to bring to life this year. The ad tells the story of why Elton’s piano was more than just a gift and we hope to remind customers of that special moment when they’ve given a gift at Christmas time that they know will be treasured forever."

According to John Lewis,  the idea was whittled down from over 300 scripts, and Elton John agreed to appear very early on in the process. His management company, Rocket Management, was involved with the casting of the actors who play him.

To accompany the ad, John Lewis is reusing a mock-up of the set in its Oxford Street store, where customers will be able to play a grand piano, sit in a '70s-style recording studio and listen to original recordings, and try on some recreations of his trademark costumes. There will also be pianos available to play throughout stores, and John Lewis will sell pianos for the first time in several years. Elton John memorabilia will be available to buy in stores.

In a statement, the singer says:  "The John Lewis Christmas campaign has so many warm memories for me and my family. It's been a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing my Grandmother's piano marks the moment when music came into my life. The ad is absolutely fantastic and I've truly loved every minute of being a part of it.”

As well as “Your Song,” several other Elton John tunes will be used in a series of shorter ads focusing on gifting: for example, “I’m Still Standing” will be used in an ad for an espresso machine. A musical light show will be projected from the shop’s Oxford Street windows every 30 minutes from 4pm, performing Elton John’s Christmas classic, “Step Into Christmas."

The retailer teased the ad by altering its signage yesterday to read simply “John” (the “Lewis will reappear tomorrow) and by changing the soundtracks on ITV shows such as “Coronation Street” to a piano version.

John Lewis would not comment on the cost of the ad, but said the 10-million-pound figure which had been speculated when news of Elton John’s appearance leaked out this summer was "wildly inaccurate," and that the spend was more in the region of previous years (around seven million pounds).







Nov 15, 2018
Client :
John Lewis
Agency :
Adam & Eve/DDB
Customer Director :
Craig Inglis
Marketing Director :
Becky Brock
Head of Brand & Social Marketing :
Liz LeBreton
Senior Brand Marketing Manager :
Emma Wood
Brand Marketing Manager :
Holly Kicul
Brand Marketing Manager :
Emma Rule
Senior Social Manager :
Eva Bojitos
Chief Creative Officer :
Richard Brim
Group Executive Creative Director :
Ben Tollett
Executive Creative Director :
Mike Sutherland
Executive Creative Director :
Ant Nelson
Art Director :
Ant Nelson
Copywriter :
Mike Sutherland
Tammy Einav
Chief Production Officer :
Anthony Falco
Managing Partner :
Miranda Hipwell
Business Director :
Sam Brown
Account Director :
Skye Stoppani
Account Manager :
Katie Briefel
Executive Strategy Director :
Martin Beverley
Senior Planner :
Charlotte Wood
Senior Producer :
Sally Pritchett
Assistant Producer :
Natasha Alderson
Digital Producer :
Hayley Carter
Project Manager :
Ian Hughes
Interactive Partner :
Simon Adamson
Social Media Director :
Lauren Booty
Senior Content Planner :
Jess Taylor
Head of Integrated Production :
Cave Ellson
Business Affairs :
Aleyna Le Fevre
Business Affairs :
Amy Brunton
Business Affairs :
Dolores King
Business Affairs :
Gemma Davies
Business Affairs :
Klaudia Jozwicka
Business Affairs :
Lois Edwards
Business Affairs :
Mar Soler
Legal Counsel :
Emma Cowland
Legal Counsel :
Annika Patel
Media Company :
Tim Pearson
Executive Director, Head of Planning :
Clare Peters
Head of Retail :
David Bratt
Client Business Director :
Andrew Darby
Client Account Manager :
Lauren Ashford
Production Company :
Director :
Seb Edwards
Executive Producer :
Simon Cooper
Producer :
Shirley O’Connor
Production Manager :
Rachael Donson
Production Assistant :
Antonia Vickers
Director of Photography :
Chase Irvin
Production Designer :
Robin Brown
Prosthetics :
Connor O’Sullivan
Costume :
Joanna Johnston
Hair and Make Up :
Maralyn Sherman
Post Production Company :
VFX Executive Producer :
Phil Whalley
VFX Shoot Supervisor :
Anthony Bloor
VFX Shoot Supervisor :
Kamen Markov
2D Lead Artist :
Kamen Markov
3D Lead Artist :
Anthony Bloor
2D Artist :
Daniel Benjamin
2D Artist :
Kalle Kohlstrom
2D Artist :
Pratyush Paruchuri
2D Artist :
Shaik Abdul Adil
2D Artist :
Dilshad Alam
2D Artist :
Uday Veerepalli
2D Artist :
Ragesh Ramachandran
2D Artist :
Bruno Roosewelt
2D Artist :
Kajal Pandya
2D Artist :
Priyanka Dey
2D Artist :
Rajesh S
2D Artist :
Joshi John
2D Artist :
Mahendra Natha Reddy
2D Artist :
Gokula Krishnan
2D Artist :
Kishan Katrimal
2D Artist :
Manoj Rajiv
2D Artist :
Manu PS
2D Artist :
Narendar Kumar
2D Artist :
2D Artist :
Partha Pratim Chakraborty
3D Artist :
Jessie Amadio
3D Artist :
Chris Welsby
3D Artist :
David Bryan
3D Artist :
Silvia Bartoli
3D Artist :
Maximilian Mallmann
3D Artist :
Kubisi Younis
3D Artist :
Andy Steele
3D Artist :
Tom Carrick
3D Artist :
Ganesh Kumar S.
3D Artist :
Shridhar Bhat
3D Artist :
Ankit Dheraj Toppo
3D Artist :
Konduru Achiraju
3D Artist :
Shaik Abdul Rahim
3D Artist :
Elangovan Ganeshan
Colorist :
Jean-Clement Soret
Soundtrack name and composer :
“Your Song”
Performed by :
Elton John
Music Supervision Company :
Sound Design, Mix and additional Music Production :
Anthony Moore
Rebecca Bell
Editing :
The Assembly Rooms
Editor :
Sam Rice Edwards
Ronan Pollock

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