Marc Lewis' Christmas ad rankings: John Lewis, Elton John and a piano have displaced Brexit

The film starring Sir Elton John is very different, while retaining some of the classic DNA that makes a John Lewis commercial / John Lewis

The festive season is almost upon us – which means it’s time for advertisers to up their budgets and start producing shiny snow-covered campaigns again. This Christmas Marc Lewis, the highly-revered creative mind who leads the School of Communications Arts London, will review (in his opinion) the merits of some of the biggest brands' seasonal spots with a creative eye, separating the Christmas crackers from the turkeys.

The John Lewis & Partners Christmas commercial brief must be the easiest gig in the world. Challenge; make something that the whole country will talk about.

The John Lewis Christmas commercial brief must be the trickiest gig in the world. Challenge; make something that the whole country will talk about.

I am writing this at 9am on Thursday 15 November and 'The Boy & the Piano' has displaced Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Twitter. The Brexit secretary has just resigned, but John Lewis is pulling nearly 50% more traffic.

I had felt that John Lewis lost its way in recent years, following a formula instead of an ambition. The commercials from Adam&Eve/DDB became so predictable that they almost blended into one. A medley, if you will.

The film starring Sir Elton John is very different, while retaining some of the DNA that makes a John Lewis commercial a John Lewis commercial. It breaks some of the rules, but maintains that emotional connection that we have come to expect in a John Lewis seasonal spot.

I won’t bore you with what happens in this commercial; there won’t be a follower of The Drum who hasn’t seen it at least once. What I will say is that I am enjoying how Adam&Eve/DDB consistently demonstrate that it understands that retail is experiential, and that is has created executions that carry the Sir Elton idea into store, just as they did with previous Christmas campaigns.

I don’t remember House of Fraser or Debenhams doing anything quite so intelligent and look where they are now.

The proposition about thoughtful gifting is almost exactly the same as the Very commercial, which has created some criticism online already.

My view is that there are times when two competing brands will have very similar platforms, and it then becomes a creative shoot-off to decide who connects best with the audience. I can’t remember seeing the Very commercial trend on Twitter.

The Very Christmas commercial brief must be the trickiest gig in the world. Challenge; make something that the whole country will talk about.

Score out of 5?

4.5

Keep up with The Drum's 2018 Christmas coverage here.

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