John Lewis shakes up tradition with ‘Little Shop of Horrors’-like Christmas ad

Saatchi’s first holiday effort for the retailer features a Venus flytrap Christmas tree—and an original Andrea Bocelli track

Published On
Nov 09, 2023
A boy in a backyard staring at a giant Venus flytrap

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Breaking free of tradition is an apt theme for John Lewis’ 2023 Christmas ad, given that the British retailer—that most hallowed of holiday advertisers—broke free of longtime agency adam&eveDDB this year to try something new with Saatchi & Saatchi London.

The result is a strangely appealing campaign starring a Venus flytrap who wants to be a Christmas tree—and who grows, “Little Shop of Horrors”-like, to suitably mammoth proportions.

In the end, though, the creatures gets just too big for the living room. So, sadly, it’s relocated to the chilly backyard, where you might assume it would begin plotting its revenge.

Good thing no one pricks a finger, or this thing could get ravenous.


Turns out, however, that the creature, dubbed “Snapper,” isn’t a plant-agonist at all but a friend—one whose present-unwrapping and confetti-launching skills are second to none. The point being that it’s OK to upend traditions and start new ones at Christmastime.

That can be a dicey message in uncertain times, when people are perhaps more likely to cling to the sureties of the past—and criticize those who don’t. Fellow U.K. retailer M&S learned that earlier this month, when its seasonal spot—in which celebs including Hannah Waddingham threw away (and in some cases literally burned) old customs in favor of new ones—was met with some backlash. It didn’t help that some burning party hats were said to look like the Palestinian flag.

John Lewis has been careful in the press materials around the “Snapper” camapign to emphasize that old traditions can be cherished as well, even as research suggests many British families are embracing new ones.

“We are a nation that loves the traditions of Christmas—from classic traditions like pantos and putting up the tree to evolving new ones like crafting our own presents and Zoom get-togethers,” said Charlotte Lock, customer director for John Lewis. “Many of us have our own unique festive traditions, and that makes them even more special. The film celebrates themes of family and evolving traditions and shows that a ‘perfect’ Christmas is finding joy together with loved ones, whatever your traditions.” 

Another break from tradition in the campaign is the music—an original track by legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli. John Lewis made a note in the press release to point out that the music is “wildly different to AI-generated predictions, which forecast that a cover of a classic ballad would feature on the soundtrack.” (It may also be a new tradition to mention AI in all holiday-ad press releases going forward.)

Sarah Jenkins, managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi had this to say about the spot: “It’s an extraordinary privilege to be working with the John Lewis Partnership, and it’s particularly magical to be launching a campaign that celebrates all of the traditions—both eternal and evolving—that make Christmas so special to the nation. The race to be the No. 1 Christmas ad brings extra festive spice and is such a brilliant embodiment of the skills and smarts of the U.K.’s incredible creative industries. We’re raising a glass to all.”

The campaign includes all manner of distribution, from TV to social to Meta AR filters to a digital advent calendar on the John Lewis app. There is also, of course, a Snapper collection of merch, which John Lewis says is it “widest ever range” of products associated with its holiday ad.


Nov 09, 2023
Client :
John Lewis
Agency :
Saatchi & Saatchi-London
Customer Director :
Charlotte Lock
Director of Marketing :
Rosie Hanley
Advertising Lead :
Emma Wood
Franki Goodwin
Executive Creative Director :
Paddy Fraser
Senior Creative :
Alex Kosterman
Senior Creative :
Avani Maan
Executive Design Director :
Nathan Crawford
Character Design :
Kris Miklos
Design Team :
Simon Anderton
Design Team :
James Crickmore
Chief Strategy Officer :
Richard Huntington
Head of Strategy :
Sam Wise
Senior Planner :
Polly Goodman
Managing Director :
Sarah Jenkins
Managing Partner :
Humphrey Taylor
Business Lead :
Rania Kouros
Account Director :
Jack Steer
Chief Production Officer :
Jessica Ringshall
Executive Production Director :
Sam Robinson
Agency Producer :
Alex Pemberton
Production Assistant :
Grace McDonagh
Junior Creative :
Iki Choi
Junior Creative :
Will Griffin
Design Team :
Natalie Alves
Design Team :
Jay de Silva
Design Team :
George Colledge
Design Team :
Dani Wolf
Design Team :
Benny Yang
Design Team :
James Goodwin Davies
Junior Planner :
Humiraa Firdaws
Head of Data Arts :
Ruth Bates
Data Artist :
Jack Buck
Account Director :
Julia Leibetseder
Account Director :
Cali Fish
Account Manager :
Dylan Payne
Agency Producer :
Stephanie Evans
Agency Producer :
Nayab Malik
Agency Producer :
Joe Revens
Program Director :
Lauren Pickard
Media Buying Agency :
OMD Manning Gottlieb
Executive Director :
Geraldine Ridgway
Business Director :
Melanie Nixon
Client Account Director :
Jordan Golding
Head of Creativity :
Tamara Cross
Creativity Director :
Will Selwyn
Partnerships Business Director :
Maddie Taylor Wilson
Partnerships Account Director :
Chloe Jukes
Partnerships Senior Executive :
Daniel Morris
Investment Director :
Gabriella Michalski-Turner
Programmatic Business Director :
Charles Pullen
Performance Group Director :
Phaedra Poulimenou
Client Account Director :
Tabitha Millar
Client Account Manager :
Elizabeth Rutherwood
Client Account Executive :
Margarida Amaro
Client Account Assistant :
Ruby Edwards-Probert
Head of Digital :
Danielle Matthee
Digital Account Manager :
Adam Kerbouci
Production Company :
Riff Raff
Director :
Producer :
Richard Weager
Producer :
Tracey Cooper
Executive Producer :
Matthew Fone
Production Manager :
Savvas Stavrou
Production Assistant :
Rosa Galvin
Production Assistant :
Maddy Smith
Matias Boucard
1st AD :
Chris Kelly
Production Designer :
Marco Puig
Post-Production Company :
Electric Theatre Collective
Colorist :
Luke Morrison
Creative Director :
Dean Robinson
VFX Supervisor :
Alex Gabucci
CG Supervisor :
Dorianne Fibleuil
Executive Producer :
Magda Krimitsou
Production Coordinator :
Ryley King
2D Compositing :
Alex Kulikov
2D Compositing :
Taran Spear
2D Compositing :
Adam Woolrich
2D Compositing :
Tijan Holder
2D Compositing :
Victoria Pascual
Animation Supervisor :
Andras Ormos
Animation :
Fabrice Fiteni
Animation :
Han Park
Animation :
Gererd Murphy
Animation :
Fred Austin
Lighting/Look Dev :
Jordan Dunstall
Lighting/Look Dev :
Wesley Roblett
Lighting/Look Dev :
Aidan Callaghan
Lighting/Look Dev :
Lennart Vulto
FX :
Dan Yargici
FX :
Sergio Morales Paz
FX :
Alberto Scotti
FX :
Nick de Leeuw
Asset Build :
Bibin Panackal
Asset Build :
Zhane Nathan-Grant
Asset Build :
Poul Resen Steenstrup
Asset Build :
Joseph Dowling
Asset Build :
Holland Crouch
Asset Build :
Parker Britt
Asset Build :
Tom Harrison
Asset Build :
Mara Pawlowska
Rigging :
Nikolai Maderthoner
Rigging :
Clementine Lecluse
Rigging :
Jashua Fernandez
Rigging :
Jo Allington
Concept :
Emily Shilling
Editing Company :
Final Cut
Editor :
Joe Guest
Assistant Editor :
Matt Gabzdyl
Executive Producer :
Michelle Corney
Sound House :
Sound Engineer :
Sam Ashwell
Sound Engineer :
Jake Ashwell
Head of Production :
Olivia Ray
Music :
Wake The Town
Music Supervisor :
Dom Bastyra
Music Writer & Producer :
Le Feste Antonucci
Performed by :
Andrea Bocelli

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