An Earthling Befriends an Alien in John Lewis's 2021 Christmas Ad

adam&eveDDB delivers an 'Unexpected Guest'

An extraterrestrial boldly goes where a penguin, dragon, snowman and many others have gone before—into a John Lewis Christmas ad.

Always much anticipated, this year's two-minute spot hews closely to the John Lewis formula for its holiday work: a story of friendship backed by a cover song. In this case, the music is a new version of Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder's 1984 tune "Together in Electric Dreams" performed by 20-year-old British singer-songwriter Lola Young.

The spot, titled "Unexpected Guest," features an alien who lands on Earth completely unnoticed, except by a boy who happens to witness it while riding the bus home. They soon strike up a friendship in the woods behind his home, and eventually cement their bonds through a sparkly Christmas present.

Unexpected Guest | John Lewis & Partners | Christmas Ad 2021

"For a Christmas as magical as your first," says the spot's end line—a theme that subtly nods to re-experiencing the holiday anew via the return of gatherings with loved ones after last year's pandemic cancellations.

"There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time and enjoying your favorite festive moments with loved ones," says client customer director Claire Pointon. "After the last 18 months, we wanted our advert to really celebrate this as we look forward to a brighter future. We know our customers are excited for this festive season more than ever, as they reconnect with family and friends. Through the story of Skye and Nathan we celebrate friendship and are reminded of the joy of experiencing Christmas for the first time."

The spot went live this morning online and will first air on TV tonight on ITV during The Pride of Britain Awards.

As always, the retailer is bringing the spot to life in other ways. There will be versions of the spaceship in stores; two Snapchat lenses; and a gamified virtual experience for My John Lewis members exclusively. A version of Nathan's Christmas sweater is also going on sale, with 10 percent of profits going to charity.

The John Lewis ad is widely seen as the traditional kickoff to the Christmas season in Britain. The company's 2011 spot "The Long Wait" began a remarkable streak of holiday hits, which have since included the famous "Monty the Penguin" spot in 2014, as well as "The Boy and the Piano," featuring Elton John, in 2018.

John Lewis | The Long Wait
John Lewis | Monty the Penguin
John Lewis | The Boy and the Piano

Creative Agency: adam&eveDDB
Media Planning & Buying Agency: MG OMD
Production company: Smuggler
Producer: Ewen Brown
Production Manager: Marketa Husecka
Director: Mark Molloy
D.O.P: Greig Fraser
Production Designer: Nathan Parker
Costume Designer: Rosa Dias
Hair & Makeup Artist: Michele Baylis
Casting: Ali Fearnley

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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