It was always going to be a challenge for any major retailer to come up with the goods for this year's much-anticipated Christmas ad. But for Waitrose & John Lewis, it has once again delivered the festive cheer we all need with a heartwarming campaign that asks us to "give a little love".
Inspired by the kindness we saw throughout the pandemic, the spot is just one aspect of the campaign, which also launches today, on National Kindness Day, as it hopes to make a lasting difference to some of those hit hardest during 2020. Both John Lewis and Waitrose are aiming to raise £4m for two charities: FareShare, which helps those facing food poverty and Home-Start, which works with parents who need support.
Created by advertising agency adam&eveDDB, the two-minute ad isn't just a celebration of different forms of moving art – from animation and claymation to CGI and cinematography – it's made up of nine different vignettes created by eight different artists who are leading experts in their particular art, including Chris Hopewell, who has created music videos for Radiohead and Franz Ferdinand, and French animator Sylvain Chomet.
The unique approach was chosen in a spirit of kindness towards the creative industries, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. Instead of a single production team, multiple artists were selected, giving employment to many people across our creative community.
The scenes are connected to create a long chain of giving, as each film passes the campaign's heart emblem on to the next part of the film. The storyline illustrates how acts of kindness, large and small, can multiply and positively impact the world in which we live as we pass them on to others. And the different 'moments' of kindness captured in the film are designed to appeal to different audiences, from children upwards.
A 30-second complementary advert was created by four post-graduate students from Kingston University who were chosen for their distinctive styles, which are joyful, yet humble. Both adverts were directed by acclaimed British director Oscar Hudson.
In another step away from its traditional approach, for the first time, a new song was commissioned for the Christmas campaign. Written and recorded by British soul singer, Celeste, the song is also called 'A Little Love'. Last year, she won a Brit Award and in January this year, she was crowned BBC Music's Sound of 2020. Every time the track is downloaded Celeste and her record label Polydor will make a 10p donation to the campaign.
James Bailey from Waitrose says: "Each year festive adverts come and go – and some are remembered more vividly than others. But our advertising this year will leave a lasting legacy – and in that way, we hope it won’t just be for Christmas."
Pippa Wicks of John Lewis adds: "We recently set out our ambition for our business to be a force for good, so we decided that this year was the year to break the mould and do something different.
"We have a long tradition of helping support the communities which we serve, so as we launch one of the best-loved assets, our Christmas ad, it's fitting to take this one step further by working hand in hand with two incredible charities supporting families in need.
"We were humbled by the kindness shown by the British public during the pandemic. We want this campaign to be uplifting and to inspire everyone to give some kindness in their own way this Christmas, especially to those who need it most. The pandemic has proved that it's our small acts of love and kindness, particularly in challenging times, that captures what it is to be human; and when one small act of kindness multiplies it can have a lasting impact."
The adverts, which went live on social media channels this morning, will first be broadcast on TV tomorrow evening during The Voice on ITV.