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Happy 150th birthday John Lewis! Take a look at the best John Lewis ads, as chosen by JWT, M&C Saatchi, Lambie-Nairn and more

As retailer John Lewis celebrates 150 years with a special advert created by Adam&Eve/DDB, we take a walk down memory lane, asking creative directors what their favourite John Lewis ads are.

Some are no surprise - what's a John Lewis ad list without The Long Wait? - but others may come as a shock.

If your favourite John Lewis ad didn't make the list, let us know in the comments.

Generations (Always a Woman)

Sophie Lutman, creative director, Lambie-NairnMy favourite is the Generations ad. Although it’s a close run thing with The Long Wait, but only because I love the Smiths and I think the version used on the soundtrack is brilliant. However, the insight behind the Generations ad is better. It is perfectly tailored to the John Lewis customer and taps into exactly what that particular audience wants. I had just had children when it came out, and it always used to make me cry. And that is what is powerful about that advert: it provokes an emotional response. It isn’t technically brilliant – and it certainly has its flaws – but when it came out it was new, and different and emotive.Jason Andrews, executive creative director, RappMy favourite is Always a woman. It almost always brings a lump in my throat. I love the way it evokes all the important women in my life. As a son, it makes me think of my mum. As a husband, it reminds me how much I love my Mrs. And as a father of daughters, it touches a nerve about how much they mean to me. In these times of brands seeking connected experiences across platforms, these ads stand tall as examples of the emotional power of one-off blockbuster TV. Simple stories, brilliant casting and those trademark reworked soundtracks make this body of work as much a national treasure as John Lewis itself.Ed Bolton, design director, FitchMy favourite John Lewis ad has to be the one where the female character grows up through the ages. Concepts like these always sound great on paper, but can be really difficult to pull off. The ad is beautifully shot, well art directed, seamlessly choreographed and has a real emotional punch. The transitions between the generations of the female character are well thought out and developed, and it tells a genuinely touching story while showing all the different products you could need from John Lewis throughout your life."

Never Knowingly Undersold

Mark Goodwin, creative director, M&C Saatchi ‘Shine On’ isn’t the most creative John Lewis ad. It’s not the cleverest insight or the most original idea or even the best shot. Nor is it the most awarded, the most written about or the most viewed. But it is beautifully styled. From the Sports Walkman to the Harrington jacket, the nostalgic cues just feel right. And it manages to contain The Smiths, The Selector and the theme to Black Beauty (although I always preferred ‘White Horses’, despite the dubbing). Most of all, it conjures up these memories with just the right amount of ‘rose-tinting’ to avoid the sentimentality becoming too mawkish.

The Long Wait

Russell Ramsey, executive creative director, JWT London'The Long wait' remains the best John Lewis Christmas ad by far.I love it because of all the things that are wrong with it.A small boy spends a minute and a half being miserable.The music is passive and melancholy. You don't see anything that's available at John Lewis and the only branding comes after 87 seconds. Yet, it's compelling, charming and effective. Sue Higgs, creative director, Publicis LondonNaming no names, there’s a CD here who tells the story of how he was put on report at school, (they did that in the 70s) for being too excited about Christmas. It was October. I love that story. I love Christmas. That’s why I love this ad. It captures beautifully the excitement of Christmas through the eyes of a child. And, oh the music. The Smiths B-side given the John Lewis Class A treatment, spawning a whole new generation of clients wanting to do the same, aka “ Give us a John Lewis.” Then finally the rug is pulled, along with our heartstrings, as we see the boy was excited about giving gifts to his parents. Oh my, pass the tissues, my eyes seem to be leaking.Paul Domenet, creative director/partner, Johnny FearlessThe Long Wait kicked the door down really. In a nice pair of slippers.It had the confidence to take its time.It was new-fashioned old-fashioned.It had a 'twist'. How quaint.It had faultless performances and direction.It had a narrative in an age of mood reels.And it had The Smiths. Sort of.And it reminded us that, when done lovingly and around an idea, even in a digital age, a TV commercial is still the most powerfulBrand Builder.And for that, an entire industry rejoiced.David Prideaux, executive creative director, Publicis Chemistry The Long Wait was the ad that changed the game – just look at the influence it's had. It's made schmaltz de rigeur in Christmas advertising. It used a classic rock track re-recorded with a softer, contemporary interpretation - the musical technique that has become a cliché. And it re-invented the idea of using Christmas advertising as an event. It’s a great script perfectly executed. In fact it’s so good the only problem is they haven't been able to beat it.


Sean Kinmont, founding partner – creative, 23redMy favourite John Lewis TV ad is the Shadows Christmas advert. It was the first of the Christmas campaigns that have now become an annual advertising event, and arguably the best of them.The ad shows presents being stacked in such a way that they create shadows depicting the people for whom they are to be given. The idea is that John Lewis will help you find gifts for those you love.Its beautifully crafted, refined, uses the product in a very clever way and somehow also manages to be incredibly emotive. It also introduced through the Prokofiev soundtrack a use of music that was to become a trademark of the Christmas ads

Bear and the Hare

Simon Attwater, group creative director, DigitasLBiSurely the toughest brief in town, and one that I've heard even the office cleaners have a go at.One of the few TV spots that a nation looks forward to, and the dark devilish side of me wanted the latest one to be a howler.Alas the Bear and the Hare was yet another mini yuletide masterpiece. I doff my Christmas cracker hat