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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

November 10, 2022 | 4 min read

The retailer’s much-anticipated Christmas ad highlights the plight of children within the care system.

Consciously avoiding the special effects-laden fare of previous years, this year’s John Lewis Christmas campaign features a foster father anxiously learning to skateboard to connect with a child in care when she arrives.

The end of the ad features the note that 108,000 children within the UK currently reside within the care system. It highlights the 18-month-long project that John Lewis has undertaken in partnership with Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland, with a John Lewis spokesperson noting that while the campaign features a story set at Christmas, the project itself extends past the festive season.

Accordingly, while John Lewis will be measuring the success of the campaign using its existing KPIs, it is also “hoping to shift” purpose-driven metrics with the ad slots. The team noted that while the project and its focus on purpose pre-existed the cost of living crisis, those financial pressures facing families impacted the creation of the ad.

Claire Pointon, customer director at John Lewis, said: “We are fortunate to have a truly unique platform in our Christmas ad, which sparks a national conversation. As a purpose-led brand, making a genuine difference in our communities is important. At John Lewis we care deeply about families, and recognize that they come in many different forms. For our biggest moment of the year, we decided to focus on one kind of family that is often overlooked.”

While John Lewis has created charity-led campaigns before, the team argues that this is a “much longer-term project, and one more deeply rooted” in the values it wishes to embody. While the TV spots provide an emotive snapshot demonstrating the need for carers and foster families, John Lewis also has a dedicated landing page that provides key stats about the care system, including the fact that people who grew up in care are three times more likely to be homeless than to go to university.

The campaign had input from people who grew up within the care system at all stages, from inception to creation. The John Lewis team also stressed that the campaign was focus- and audience-tested more stringently than in previous years, given the sensitive nature of the depicted experience.

The John Lewis Christmas campaign 2022

Pippa Wicks, executive director at John Lewis, added: “Turbulent times worsen social inequalities, and Christmas is a time when this can be most keenly felt. It’s more important than ever for our business to stand up and use our voice to make a difference where we can.”

The TV ads, which were created in 30-, 60- and 90-second-long variations, were put together by Adam & Eve/DDB, and teased on social ahead of time. It features a slow piano-led cover of Blink-182’s All The Small Things by Mike Geier. The John Lewis team states that the song was chosen in part due to the uplifting lyrics, but also to capitalize upon the nostalgia of people who grew up listening to the original and are now of an age to have children themselves.

In addition to the TV ads airing from November 10, the team has also shown the campaign to families on Gogglebox to raise awareness of the campaign and the issues surrounding carers.

Beyond the ad itself, John Lewis and Waitrose are also using in-store activations to benefit the partner charities. 25% of sales of the John Lewis Christmas bear is set to go to charity, while in-store Santa’s Grottoes and Giving Trees will both raise awareness and provide an opportunity for consumers to donate.

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