When the John Lewis Christmas ad finally arrives (along with mince pies, the Oxford Street lights, panto season and ‘I’m a Celebrity’) it heralds the official arrival of the Christmas season. And we somehow find time in our busy lives to discuss whether or not Elton was on a par with the man on the moon, or fell short behind the snowman.


In the spirit of its arrival, I wanted to take a look at this year’s bounty of adverts to review some of the attempts at taking the Christmas advertising crown. I can’t help thinking that this year’s offerings have been slightly underwhelming.

“It’s a little bit funny”

The aforementioned Elton-through-the-ages commercial is incredibly charming and impressively well imagined. Once again, John Lewis has made a valiant attempt to retain the company’s star billing at the top of the tree.

It was about time John Lewis threw a curveball and despite the absence of a solid Christmas theme and one of their recognizable remastering of old classics that will inevitably weave its way into the charts, they have hit the spot with this one. As well as conveniently providing Sir Elton with a timely promotion before his biopic hits the cinemas next year. Although, I’m willing to bet that it wasn’t John Lewis who sold his mum that piano.

Equally effective, it must be said, is the clever cross-referencing in the Waitrose advert which sees the parents of an exasperated teenage girl fast forward ‘Elton John Lewis’ so that they can eat some panettone.

“You get what you give”

I can’t not mention the adorable Sainsbury’s ad. I’m sure there will have been some eye-rolling going on amongst Sainsbury’s execs when John Lewis and Waitrose unveiled their joint pre-Christmas ad which featured an unfortunately similar school play set up. In my opinion, Sainsbury’s went cuter, funnier and more charming than the Bohemian Rhapsody iteration. That ‘plug’ just tops it!

The Christmas Fool

Among the festive joy there’s also been the inevitable Christmas turkeys, and unfortunately the Argos ‘Little Fool’ advert finds itself as the least redeeming in my eyes. The idea is original but it’s a rookie error to make your Christmas mascot so annoying.

Of course there is a plethora of other entries in this year’s Christmas advert chart and many raise a smile or a tear. But do we actually remember the brand? What about the one with Holly Willoughby? Or Santas on motorbikes? None seem to have established their brand quite so brilliantly as John Lewis who year on year are met with the most anticipation. Has there ever been a more impressive advertising accomplishment than becoming synonymous with the very season of goodwill itself?

By Holly Miller, Account Executive, Franklin Rae