John Lewis Tells Elton John's Life Story in Its Lovely Christmas Ad for 2018

A lifelong reflection on a gift for the gifted

The staggering success of "Monty the Penguin" in 2014 has bogged John Lewis down a bit in recent years. That perfectly crafted Christmas campaign has seemed to weigh on the British department store, which tended to try to replicate the formula in the years following, for better or worse—leading to charming and gorgeously made but somewhat derivative work like "Buster the Boxer" and last year's "Moz the Monster."

This year, John Lewis and agency adam&eveDDB break out of that cycle in quite an unexpected way—with a celebrity endorsement. 

The John Lewis Christmas adverts have always hinged, in part, on the musical choices, usually a cover of a famous tune. The new spot embraces music on a deeper level, as it not only features a famous song but also stars one of Britain's all-time great pop talents—Elton John. 

Below, check out the new spot, titled "The Boy and the Piano." 

John Lewis & Partners Christmas Ad 2018 - #EltonJohnLewis

The irony is that John Lewis has used Elton John's "Your Song" in a Christmas campaign before. In 2010, a year before it truly set the bar for lovely Christmas storytelling with "The Long Wait," the brand ran a spot called "A Tribute to Givers" that featured an Ellie Goulding cover of "Your Song." 

And with lyrics like "I know it's not much, but it's the best I can do/My gift is my song, and this one's for you," it does make for an apt holiday anthem. 

The time-traveling new spot, bookended by John, now 71, playing the same piano he was given as a child, beautifully captures the priceless value of the best kinds of gifts—ones that help a natural gift or passion to flourish. 

Seb Edwards of Academy Films does a nice job directing the largely period piece, with a camera that swirls through the years and lighting cues that nicely shine on different eras. And if John himself brings some baggage that complicates the spot for some viewers, the storytelling of the 2:20 video—taken on its own—is extremely well done. 

Our only real question is: How on earth did they find a 4-year-old who looks exactly like the man?!

Check out the making-of video below.

CREDITS
Client: John Lewis
Creative Agency: adam&eveDDB
Art Director: Ant Nelson
Chief Creative Officer: Richard Brim
Account Management: Katie Briefel
Group Executive Creative Director: Ben Tollett
Chief Production Officer: Anthony Falco
Business Director: Sam Brown
Account Director: Skye Stoppani
Project Manager: Ian Hughes
Senior Producer: Sally Pritchett
Senior Planner: Charlotte Wood
Assistant Producer: Natasha Alderson
CEO: Tammy Einav
Managing Partner: Miranda Hipwell
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Seb Edwards
Edit Company: The Assembly Rooms
Post Production/VFX
Post Production Company: MPC
Sound Company: Factory

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of Clio Awards.