John Lewis follows its trusty Christmas formula with Moz, the friendly monster under the bed

After the usual round of teasers, leaks, blunders and speculation, John Lewis and Adam&Eve/DDB have released their Christmas ad for 2017 – Moz the Monster. Don’t expect too many surprises; despite the direction of Michel Gondry, the touching story of an unlikely, magical friendship forged during the festive period follows the winning recipe of previous years.

Like Monty the Penguin and Buster the Boxer, the ad’s protagonist is a young child – Joe – who discovers a monster is sleeping under his bed. He’s apprehensive at first and irritated by the beast’s snoring, but once Moz lets off a fart Joe laughs, and the two begin to form a friendship.

They play together every night, however a lack of sleep soon begins to take a strain on young Joe, who routinely nods off at the barbers, at breakfast and on the football pitch.

On Christmas Day he receives a badly wrapped nightlight, possibly from Moz himself. The story ends with the boy switching on his gift as he gets ready to sleep, which makes Moz disappear. But the minute he flicks the light off, a grumble under the bed is heard, and Joe smiles knowing that night-time adventures can still happen whenever he wants.

Continuing the John Lewis tradition for cover tracks, Moz the Monster is accompanied by the sounds of rock band Elbow, who perform The Beatles’ lullaby Golden Slumbers.

"This year’s Christmas campaign brings to life the power of children’s imaginations and the joy of great friendships,” said Craig Inglis, John Lewis’s customer director. “Moz and Joe’s story is magical and heartwarming and I’m sure it will be loved by all of our customers, young and old.”

The concept of Moz was dreamed up by John Lewis's retained agency Adam&Eve/DDB almost a year ago; early sketches of what the monster would look like are pinned to Joe’s bedroom walls. The monster himself was maneuvered by two puppeteers inside a costume, who had to endure a certain lack of oxygen during filming. The character of Joe was played by two seven-year-old twins – Ethan and Tobias.

While it would not confirm specific investment, John Lewis confirmed spend on the campaign was around the same mark as last year’s, despite the inclusion of A-list director Michele Gondry.

The filmmaker said in a statement: “When I told my ex-girlfriend I was doing the next John Lewis Christmas film she said: ‘You have big shoes to fill – this John Lewis commercial must make people cry, don’t forget.’ Last week I showed it to her and she cried. Phew.”

As expected, Adam&Eve/DDB’s creative does not start and end with the two-minute spot. John Lewis is partnering with Facebook as one of the first brands to utilise its augmented reality platform, offering consumers the chance to ‘Mozify’ their faces. It’s a significant step away from the retailer’s partnership with Snapchat last year.

A recording of actress Sally Phillips reading the Moz the Monster story will be available to download from the John Lewis website, as well via Sky boxes and Google Home. The latter will allow customers to personalise their story by choosing their own sounds effects.

On the analogue front, the storybook of the advert has been published by Nosy Crow. Moz-branded pyjamas, mugs, soft toys and more will also be available to purchase, with proceeds from the sale of certain items going to this year’s charity partner Barnardo’s.

Various in-store experiences, including ‘the world’s first farting and snoring window’ on Oxford Street, will also go live from today (10 November).

Manning Gottlieb OMD handled all planning and buying for John Lewis and worked in partnership with Adam&Eve/DDB on the campaign.

The ad will be broadcast on TV tonight during Gogglebox’s 9.30pm ad break on Channel 4 and across all of Sky’s own channels.

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Katie Deighton

Katie Deighton is The Drum’s senior reporter - creative and video based in London. She produces, films, presents and edits the title’s editorial video output, including series such as On The Scene, Ad Breakers and Why I Left Advertising, and manages its coverage of the creative sector. She also reports on the intersection between politics and marketing, as well as the third sector and fashion.

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