John Lewis and Waitrose's Christmas ad depicts a chain reaction of love

Oscar Hudson of Pulse directs spot featuring work from nine different creative artists

Published On
Nov 13, 2020

Editor's Pick

John Lewis and Waitrose's Christmas TV ad is literally "heartwarming." The two-minute spot depicts a chain reaction of love, featuring a series of vignettes in a wide range of styles that show heart shapes, in a variety of forms, passed on from one person to another.

Once again by Adam&Eve/DDB, the spot, titled "Give a little love," was directed by Oscar Hudson of Pulse (Apple "Bounce"), who worked with a variety of artists to create a story told through live action, claymation, traditional animation and CGI.

It anchors a wider campaign about charitable giving that will form a longer-term platform for the brand, going beyond the holidays. The mix of styles represents a departure from the brand's long history of traditional storytelling, which has typically followed a single arc. But they also help to emphasize the point of the campaign—John Lewis deliberately chose to work with a range of artists in order to better support the creative industry which has been hard hit by the pandemic. They include claymation artist Chris Hopewell, who has created music videos for Radiohead and Franz Ferdinand, and French illustrative animator Sylvain Chomet. The companies also created another 30-second ad with four post-graduates from Kingston University. 

In an interview with Ad Age, Waitrose senior marketing manager Joanne Massey said the idea for the campaign had evolved over the year as the pandemic struck. "It was in the early planning stages when coronavirus hit, and it was a natural evolution as we took inspiration from the acts of kindness that were occurring all across the country," she says. The different moments of kindness captured in the film are designed to appeal to different audiences, from children to seniors—"hoping that there's at least one for each viewer," says Massey. "The overall message we had, is that one act of kindness inspires and leads to another, creating a chain reaction."

The soundtrack, by British soul singer Celeste, is an original song, in a move away from the brand's tradition of recording cover versions of classics. "Usually we start with a song, but this was a really different process," adds Emma Wood, John Lewis senior marketing manager, brand. "We knew we wanted Celeste, we fell in love with her voice and commissioned a piece of music."

The campaign's focus on kindness and charitable giving arrives at a time when many families are struggling. John Lewis and Waitrose are aiming to raise four million pounds for two charities: FareShare, which helps those facing food poverty and Home-Start, which works with parents who need support. Customers will be encouraged to “give a little love” in five different ways: making a charity donation, buying campaign products with 100% of profit donated to the charities, using their loyalty card to increase the John Lewis Partnership’s donation or giving a little love to someone they know who needs it and helping in their local community. John Lewis is asking consumers to share their stories on social channels, including using an Instagram lens.