John Lewis gives the man on the moon the perfect Christmas gift as its festive push begins

The wait is over, this year’s John Lewis’ Christmas ad is finally here, telling the heartwarming story of young girl who sends a present to a man who lives on the moon.

The ad hits screens tonight (6 November) capping off a week-long tease that has introduced the #onthemoon hashtag on social media and in a ten second ad. However, for those who can't wait until then, the ad is being shown first on YouTube and spread via the retailer's social media channels.

Continuing the trend of getting contemporary artists to interpret classic songs, the Adam&Eve DDB-created ad is set to Norwegian singer Aurora's cover of the Oasis track Half the World Away. It tells the story of young girl who spies man living on the moon through her telescope. The stranger’s solitude during the festive period rouses the child to find a way to send him a gift.

“John Lewis wants the big reveal to happen on social media rather than during the X Factor because it has recognised that it can reach a larger, more targeted audience more quickly online,” said Dominic Trigg, senior vice president and managing director of EMEA and emerging markets at Rocket Fuel.

The launch of the John Lewis ad and its chosen song have become highlights on the Christmas calendar, generating mass amounts of awareness for both brand and singer worldwide.

In the first hour since its launch, #ManOntheMoon and #OnTheMoon garnered 16,396 mentions. Artist Aurora also racked almost 4,500 mentions in an hour, leaving in the dust 2014's Tom Odell who received 3,670 mentions over 24 hours and Lily Allen' 3,303 mentions in 2013.

"By investing in social and digital, John Lewis are opening the door to a changing landscape with more targeted, personalised advertising and relationships with customers," said Trigg.

“This is part of an evolution that will continue in the years ahead. Television still represents the largest slice of advertising revenue but companies are becoming smarter and are embracing programmatic. Rather than relying on ratings for specific shows or channels, marketers can use programmatic tech to reach a more specific subset of consumers, like people with certain incomes or owners of specific devices. They won’t care if that ad shows up on X Factor, as long as the target audience is watching."

The ad is backed by moon pop-up sets at 11 John Lewis stores, where visitors will be able take photos of the set as well as learn about the moon and the retailer’s partnership with Age UK. The tie-up spans in-store and online activity as well the offer to make text donations when specific Christmas items are bought.

Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis, said: "Our Christmas advert is once again all about going the extra mile to give someone the perfect gift. This year though, the story is told in a uniquely creative and engaging way as we see Lily, our heroine, go to great lengths to connect with the man on the moon."

“We hope it inspires people to find really special gifts for their loved ones and through our partnership with Age UK, raises awareness of the issue of loneliness amongst older people and encourages others to support in any way they can."

However, Lizzy Pollott, chief marketing officer, Havas SE Cake, argued that the Age UK tie-up could have been given more prominence in the ad itself.

“The only slight negative from me is that the Age UK partnership is not as apparent as, say Sainsbury’s Royal British Legion effort last year – but it doesn’t detract from the quality of the campaign," she added.

“For me, the true value to John Lewis surely comes beyond just Christmas itself. Having established itself as the Steven Spielberg of Christmas, the halo effect of this has the potential to last throughout the year. As when it comes to Christmas, John Lewis is never knowingly undersold.”

John Lewis has also created an augmented reality app to take fans of the ad closer to the moon. When pointed at the man on the moon image found on posters, John Lewis shopping bags, click and collect boxes and other items, users are shown a 3D interactive moon that serves up daily facts and animations in the countdown to Christmas Day’s full moon. Additionally, a game based on the ad challenges players to get a chosen object all the way up to the man on the moon.

Manning Gottlieb OMD planned the campaign.

Seb Joseph

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