John Lewis's Christmas ad is a touching alien love story

Mark Molloy directs Adam&Eve/DDB's spot set to cover of 'Together in Electric Dreams'

Published On
Nov 04, 2021

Editor's Pick

John Lewis is kicking off the U.K.'s Christmas ad-fest this year with a heartwarming tale of a teenage boy and an alien girl as it looks to recapture the joy of Christmas after a locked-down 2020. In a time of retail supply chain worries, the brand is also launching its ad earlier than usual, showcasing merchandise from its existing range.

With echoes of "E.T.," "Close Encounters," and even the holiday classic "The Snowman," this year's film concerns a 14-year-old boy, Nathan, who finds a spaceship that has crash-landed in the woodlands near his suburban home. He discovers an ethereal alien girl, Skye, and introduces her to some U.K. Christmas traditions: a holiday tree, decorations, lights, mince pies, movies and festive sweaters. Meanwhile, she's able to use her alien powers to join in the celebration—for example, she helps switch on the lights.

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Eventually, their adventure comes to an end on a bittersweet note (as all good alien encounters do) with the spaceship ready to leave. Nathan gives her his Christmas jumper, and Skye says goodbye with a touching kiss on the cheek before flying off and leaving a sparkling star on the tree. The spot ends with the words "For a Christmas as magical as your first."

The ad was created by longstanding agency Adam&Eve/DDB London and directed by Smuggler's Mark Molloy, the Australian director behind Apple's "Underdogs." The spot marks his first for the brand. As with previous John Lewis ads, music is integral to the film. It's set to a cover version of "Together in Electric Dreams," the '80s hit by Giorgio Moroder and Phil Oakey. This time it's performed by a relatively unknown singer, Londoner Lola Young. 

Not just about gifting

John Lewis previewed the ad at a press event his week. According to the brand, the new spot is all about creating wonderful Christmas memories as if you were experiencing them for the first time. Claire Pointon, John Lewis and Partners customer director, said during the event that the company also aimed for a "joyful, optimistic" feel as well as "escapism" after the disappointment of Christmas 2020 when much of the U.K. was in lockdown and families could not meet. As for the cosmic theme, she noted the team felt that "space is interesting right now," with recent space flights and explorations capturing headlines. 

The focus is deliberately not just on gifting but also on the "many moments that customers really missed," said Pointon. "This year people are really aware of the little things that matter, like Christmas movies or carol concerts, and it's about that just as much as the gifting."

John Lewis' Christmas campaigns have typically featured a themed merchandise component. The award-winning "Monty the Penguin" spot, for example, came with a range of more than 40 related products.  Although this year's ad does feature the company's goods—such as the Christmas sweater worn by Nathan—Pointon said John Lewis is also being mindful of the supply shortages experienced by many retailers this Christmas. It has not created any new tie-in merchandise, and all of the goods featured are from John Lewis' existing lineup of goods. The ad is also breaking earlier in November than is traditional for John Lewis, to encourage customers to shop early. 

After two years of joint campaigns for John Lewis and Waitrose, the supermarket chain owned by John Lewis, the two brands have reverted to separate commercials. "We wanted to make sure the two brands have clarity of thought," said Pointon. "There are places where the two brands should come together in marketing but that will be more in our charitable work." 

(John Lewis's charitable initiative, Give a Little Love, which was the subject of last year's ad, continues with 10% of the profits for each Christmas jumper going to two charities, FareShare and Home-Start U.K.). 

As well as the TV ad, which breaks tonight on ITV, the wider campaign includes two Snapchat lenses: one where people can turn themselves into space travelers and another that lets them explore Skye's spaceship. John Lewis will also have ten Christmas emporiums in stores where people can pose with the spaceship and create interactive gifs to post on social media. 

Meanwhile, John Lewis and Adam&Eve/DDB will be hoping that the ad goes down well with the British public, after the brand's recent home insurance ad, featuring a destructive little boy, sparked public outcry for various reasons and was later pulled for potentially being misleading about the product offering. The retailer is reviewing its media account, currently held by MG OMD.


Nov 04, 2021
Client :
John Lewis
Agency :
Adam & Eve/DDB
Director :
Mark Molloy
Director of Customer :
Claire Pointon
Director of Creative and Content :
Matt Richmond
Head of Brand Marketing :
Rosie Hanley
Advertising Lead :
Emma Wood
Senior Advertising Manager :
Holly Kicul
Senior Advertising Executive :
Rebecca Stevens
Senior Advertising Executive :
Ellie Smith
Chief Creative Officer :
Richard Brim
Joint Chief Executive Officer :
Tammy Einav
Managing Director :
Paul Billingsley
Creative Director :
Matt Gay
Creative Director :
Feargal Ballance
Copywriter :
Matt Gay
Copywriter :
Feargal Ballance
Copywriter :
Patrick McClelland
Art Director :
Matt Gay
Art Director :
Feargal Ballance
Executive Producer :
Sally Pritchett
Integrated Producer :
Clio McLeary
Assistant Producer :
Claire Peacock
Project Manager :
Amy Waldman
Designer/Typographer :
King Henry Studio
Designer/Typographer :
Dave Robinson
Head of Integrated Production :
Ben Sharpe
Head of Diversity Equality & Inclusion :
Bukola Garry
Chief Strategy Officer :
Martin Beverley
Planning Partner :
Hugh DeWinton
Senior Planner :
Sian Iles
Business Director :
Jo Lorimer
Account Director :
Charlie Poole
Account Manager :
Emily Bristowe
Business Affairs :
Layla Husted
Business Affairs :
Lois Edwards
Business Affairs :
Gemma Davies
Legal Counsel :
Candice Macleod
Legal Counsel :
Tom Campbell
Legal Counsel :
Trine Odin
Media Agency :
Manning Gottlieb OMD
Natalie Bell
Managing Director :
Katrina Bozicevich
Executive Director :
Glenn Berchnall
Business Director :
Ryan Cummins
Account Director :
Lauren Ashford
Strategy & Planning :
Matthew Philip
Strategy & Planning :
David Bielenberg
Executive Director Head of Creativity and Innovation :
Tamara Cross
AV Media Planner :
Gabriella Michalski
AV Media Planner :
Daniel Baker
AV Media Planner :
Tom Brown
Social Media Planner :
Gilad Mandelboim
Social Media Planner :
Lucie Barnett
Digital Video Planner :
Erika Maciulyte
Digital Video Planner :
Gareth Treacher
Production Company :
Producer :
Ewen Brown
Production Manager :
Marketa Husecka
Director :
Mark Molloy
Greig Fraser
Production Designer :
Nathan Parker
Costume Designer :
Rosa Dias
Hair & Makeup Artist :
Michele Baylis
Casting :
Ali Fearnley
Editing Company :
Work Editorial
Editor :
Stewart Reeves
Edit Assistant :
Rain Keene
Editing Producer :
Ellie McNaughtan
Post Production :
VFX Supervisor :
Bill McNamara
2DVFX Supervisor & Creative Director :
Ludo Fealy
CGVFX Supervisor :
Ben Thomas
2D Artist :
Jamie Stitson
2D Artist :
Adam McHale
2D Artist :
Humayun Mirza
2D Artist :
Nicole Palucsis
2D Artist :
Jessica Hayes
2D Artist :
David Ince
2D Artist :
Joseph Dymond
2D Artist :
Chrys Aldred
2D Artist :
Matt Hutchins
3D Artist :
Ivan Tomovic
3D Artist :
Andrew Maccabe
3D Artist :
Alison Stott
3D Artist :
James White
3D Artist :
Guido Pagotto
3D Artist :
Mike Farrar
3D Artist :
David Rencsenyi
DMP & Environment Artist :
Emilis Baltrusaitis
DMP & Environment Artist :
Aurelien Ronceray
Motion Graphics :
Anthony Scott
Concept :
Jake Lunt Davies
Concept :
Nathan McKenna
Colorist :
KaiVan Beers
Color Assist :
Elliott Ward
VFX Producer :
David Keegan
Music Supervisor :
Audio Post Production :
Sound Engineer :
Anthony Moore
Sound Producer :
Beth Massey
Track Name :
Together In Electric Dreams
Music Supervisor :
Leland Music
Music Supervisor :
Abi Leland
Music Supervisor :
Ed Bailie
Music Supervisor :
Toby Williams
Composer :
Philip Oakey
Composer :
Giorgio Moroder
Artist :
Lola Young
Music Producer :
David Kosten
Master :
Universal Music Group
Master :
Island Records
Publisher :
BMG Rights Management
Publisher :
Limited Edition
Publisher :
Warner Chappell

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