This year, there was no doubt that our Christmas advert had to deliver something different. After the tumultuous events of the last 12 months we felt the need to do something truly exceptional. But what? How to create an advert with real meaning while also warming the hearts of the nation?
Like everyone else, John Lewis had to adapt quickly as our lives changed almost overnight. We were still early in the process of ad production in March when the pandemic broke and this soon shaped the idea. Our Give A Little Love theme was inspired by the huge wave of kindness that swept across the country as people came together to help support everyone in their communities.
“A little love gets passed on, then gets passed on to another person. That’s what we’re going to need this Christmas”
Anthony Farquar-Smith - Animator Supervisor
‘We wanted to inspire a generation with the thought that if we all simply give a little more love, the world will be a better place,’ says Claire Pointon, Director of Customer, John Lewis. ‘Every year it’s important for us to ensure we are mindful of the world in which we are living when it comes to our advertising. So it felt like the right thing to do to dedicate a moment we are most famous for to a really purpose-led initiative.’ The result? An advert that called on the very best creative minds from across the UK and Europe to deliver something truly unique, alongside a campaign to raise £5million for charities by Christmas.
The aim was to enlist the help of different creatives – talented illustrators, animators and makers, all experts in their field – who could bring our vision to life. The group ranged from high-profile directors and puppeteers to university graduates. Everything – from the claymation figures and Spikes the hedgehog, to the cardboard 222 bus to Tooting – was painstakingly made by hand. British director Oscar Hudson was tasked with the job of blending the styles and bringing everything together in a series of stop-motion vignettes.
“The whole ad is made up from different styles of animation, but it’s joined together in the narrative of giving a little love”
Anthony Farquar-Smith - Animator Supervisor
Our story is about passing on the love. It starts with a girl helping a boy to get his lost ball out of a tree with her umbrella, and a domino effect is set in motion. The boy comes to the rescue of a melting snowman, who then lends a hand replacing the tyre of a broken-down car whose passengers deliver a bag of Waitrose shopping. The recipient pulls a cracker with his lonely neighbour – a barber – who gives a boy an extra-special heart-shaped haircut. The boy passes a symbolic heart to his little brother while a flock of pigeons watch through a window. Touched by the boy’s act of kindness the pigeons help a hedgehog fly (he just wants to be in their gang!). The heart-shaped trail from the hedgehog plane is spotted by a nurse – who, inspired by the symbol of love, helps a little girl to fix her glasses.
“This particular campaign needed a really lovely collection of characters”
Andy Gent - Puppet Maker
This year, hitting the right note with the soundtrack was also crucial. Soon, it became clear there was one up-and-coming star who fitted the bill perfectly: British singer-songwriter Celeste. Having won a BRIT Award earlier this year and been lauded in the music press as the breakthrough act of 2020, it was clear Celeste was the woman for the job. Her incredible, powerful voice and raw energy made her the perfect choice. Thankfully Celeste shared our vision for Give A Little Love and she was inspired to write an original composition with songwriter Jamie Hartman. Click on the pic below to read our full interview with Celeste and find out more about what went into the the writing and recording of the soundtrack.
the creatives behind the advert
From famed directors and animators to university graduates, meet the creative team that brought the concept to life
Award-winning British music director Oscar Hudson is known for his work on videos for bands such as Radiohead and Bonobo. For this year’s Christmas advert, Oscar worked with individual artists and animators and turned the script into a storyboard which laid out his vision.
Chris Hopewell is a highly-acclaimed video director and artist who has worked with Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and Scissor Sisters among many others. Chris created the ingenious claymation scenes where we see the young boy save the clay snowman.
BAFTA award-winning, Oscar-nominated French director, Sylvain Chomet is a storyteller with an unrivalled reputation for highly-creative animation, whose work includes a spot guest directing The Simpsons’ famous opening title sequence. Sylvain created the 2D snow world illustration where the snowman helps the snow family change their car tyre.
Zürich-based illustrator and filmmaker, Anete Melece, has lent her highly original and distinct style of drawing to a wide variety of creative projects. Anete created the scene where the Waitrose bag is dropped off and the neighbours pull a cracker together.
A collective of French directors bringing an off-kilter sense of humour to all of their work, MegaComputeur is famed for its quirky, visually-beautiful films. MegaComputeur created our neighbour and barber who cuts a young boy's hair into a heart shape.
Anna Mantzaris is an award-winning Swedish animation director based in London and Stockholm. Her work is often character driven and she loves to mix humour and melancholy. Her most recent film ‘Good Intentions’ premiered at BFI London Film Festival and was awarded at London International Animation Festival among others. Anna created the felt scenes where the nurse fixes the young girl's glasses (the same young girl we see in the live action scenes which precedes this scene).
Andy Gent & Anthony Farquar-Smith
Known for his work on Wes Anderson’s stop-motion feature Isle Of Dogs, Andy Gent has been creating puppets for almost 25 years. His London-based stop-motion puppet and marionette workshop has contributed to a number of notable film and television projects.
Whether working on feature films or directing TV programmes or commercials, stop-motion director Anthony Farquhar-Smith is known for his ability to bring inanimate objects to life, giving them personality and feeling. Anthony worked on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and was lead animator on Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Together, Andy and Anthony are the animators responsible for the puppetry scenes with our pigeons and the hedgehog who just wants to be a part of their gang.
Bella McEvoy is an animator specialising in stop-motion and traditional animation. She likes to tell stories with paper cut-outs and plasticine and has directed and animated stop-motion films and music videos, including a recent project for Refugee Week.
Graduating this year, Leksey Lee has a passion for drawing, making and animating. She loves creating characters and stories that are curious and optimistic and has recently worked on projects for Cartoon Network, BOOST&Co and Whizz-Kidz.
Illustrator and animator Amelia Fowler creates strange creatures and humorous narratives, telling stories loosely inspired by her own experiences and observations. She has worked on projects for clients including the Old Vic theatre among others.
Lisbon-based animator and artist, Marta Pinto has a varied portfolio of work and is interested in the visual language of storytelling. Most recently Marta has been working for publishing house LeYa, making animations for their digital learning platform.
Give a Little Love
Because together we can make a big difference to over 100,000 families in need
The voice of Christmas 2020
Meet British singer-songwriter Celeste
Shop our Give A Little Love gifts
All profits from our range of Give a Little Love gifts will be used to help families in need by our charity partners, FareShare and Home-Start