A snowman’s secret journey: how John Lewis hopes to melt our hearts in this Christmas

With the coming of Christmas, shopping malls start the war of communication campaign. Tired of mountainous commercials and promotions, John Lewis  draws an extremely different picture of Christmas which creates new understanding on the shopping festival.

Recently, John Lewis launched their 2012 Christmas campaign with a 90-second TV advert called the journey. The commercial is banking on a love struck snowman’s journey to meet his love.

Please click the picture below to watch the sweet video. 

The ad, dubbed ‘The Journey’, opens in a family’s snow-covered garden, with children making a snowman and snowwoman. When the snowman has mysteriously disappeared the next morning, the audience is transported to a magical world, following the determined snowman on an epic journey across river, mountain, road and city. The motive for the snowman’s journey is not revealed until the last scene, when we see him return on Christmas morning.

The love story is unique. Snowman’s love melts my heart. Great visuals and heart rending music leaves the viewer with a lovely warm feeling. I genuinely admire this advert as a tele-visual artwork. Differently with other commercials, it doesn’t actually sell John Lewis nor would it induce me to visit one of their stores. In fact, the advert presents John Lewis’ understanding of Christmas: meeting people you loved, which is much more important than commercials. It’s  heartwarmer in the cold winter and therefore it makes me have a great expression on the shopping mall: considerate, warm and sweet. I have to admit emotional sweet story can always work, at least, for me.

In fact, This advert, which features the tag line “Give a little more love this Christmas“, is the follow-up to last year’s multi-award winning campaign, which is highly praised by BBC news as a breakdown in Ads. Actually I love last year’s video more than this newly launched one. I remember When I saw it the first time, I just cannot help crying.

Please click the picture below to enjoy the video. Please do not miss it.

The video features a little boy who could not wait to give his parents the perfect gift on Christmas morning. The child in the video is seven-year-old Lewis McGowan, who in the ad spends 10 days counting off the hours, minutes and seconds until Christmas. Not so he can indulge in a frenzied present-opening fest, but so that he can experience the joy of giving his parents a special gift of his own. The Long Wait is engaging on an emotional level – having a character that we can relate to, such as checking the time again and again, being too exciting to fall asleep and cannot focus on anything else. I totally understand the feeling of cannot wait to give, which is far more excited and even nervous than receiving gifts. I remember every year when I finish preparing the birthday gifts for my parents, I just cannot help telling them before the big day.


John Lewis uses this commercial to press home the real meaning of Christmas – that it is better to give than to receive. Customers put real effort and emotion into finding the perfect gift for their loved ones at Christmas. This commercial succeeds by motivating the philosophy of giving which is extremely hit the core of the festival. More importantly, the smartness is that John Lewis selects an intangible way to encourage customers to consume in the name of showing love.

Above all, I favor the commercials by John Lewis not only because it use a intangible way to describe a beautiful life but also it has been using storytelling to take the viewer through a long-form ad for a few years. It is a successful strategy. Each year, the Christmas commercials it promotes is consistent. When I watch newly launched Ads , I will always go back to review the former ones  and expect more for the next year.

If you would like to know more about John Lewis’ Ads, here is another classic commercial from: Never Knowingly Undersold. This one does not focus on Christmas theme, but I extremely like it because of the Britishness as well as the love story that spans time and space.

The advert is the story of two people falling in love. On the left side of the screen we see the girl’s side of the story. She lives in 1925, the year that John Lewis made its life long commitment to Never Knowingly Undersold. On the right side of the screen we see the boy’s side of the story. He lives in the present day. By bringing their two worlds together as one, we show that falling in love, and embarking on a relationship, is a universal story which will keep being replayed throughout time. The Ads tells us while many aspects of our lives today are very different to almost a century ago, the really important things haven’t changed at all.

Please click the picture below and enjoy the romantic story that spans time and space.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A snowman’s secret journey: how John Lewis hopes to melt our hearts in this Christmas

  1. Jackie Attwood-Dupont says:

    Great post. I also hace a soft spot for the John Lewis commercials, especially after living in the UK for a few years. My roomate last year cried not only the first time she saw the 2011 Christmas commercial but EVERY single time. It got a little bit ridiculous.

    I think we can all agree that these commercials are doing a great job implementing the ’emotion’ component of SUCCESS to make the ideas sticky. It’s also convenient that John Lewis does a wonderful job cultivating its consumer’s love and respect with great coroporate social responsibility and a very ‘ethical’ ownsership structure. The company’s brand image both as a department store, and as the owner of the grocery store, Waitrose, whcih is commited to British products, is: ‘the good guy.’ These commercials really fit and continue to build the existing brand image. And now they are certainly a part of British christmas culture. Everyone looks forward to, writes about and talks about the John Lewis ad.

  2. jianshan says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’m not familiar with the John Lewis brand as I haven’t lived in the UK but I absolutely adore the last piece!! I love its subtlety in that the content isn’t shopping-related at all. The entire commercial is like a mini-movie that features a time machine, which reminds me of two of my favorite films from last year Midnight in Paris and Hugo. Instead of blatantly shouting the goal, this kind of delicately crafted ads magically touches the softest spot in people’s hearts. Therefore I believe that those artful ads always work out perfectly for everyone.

  3. June Xue says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these fabulous commercials with us! In the second commercial, the song is from the Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want! I’ve always loved this song!!!!!!

    Before assessing the effectiveness of these commercials in terms of the revenues they might have engendered, I have to say they are more like some pieces of delicate artworks!

    I absolutely adore these commercials and John Lewis’ marketing ideas embedded in them, but I am still a little bit uncertain about the business results these commercials have triggered because I am not familiar with this brand and no further info has been provided. After all, sometimes customers may like the commercials a lot without actually going to the store and completing purchases.

    I think the second commercial telling a “can’t wait to give a present” story could effectively trigger purchases considering it was Christmas time and the commercial has hinted how important the giving is! Anyway I love these commercials!

  4. chenshen says:

    All these three videos from John Lewis appeal to love as the storyline in the commercials, and they are very successfully give the brand a life. Whenever or wherever the customers see John Lewis, they would remember this is a brand full of love. Especially when I watched the second video, I think most people would think the kid in the video couldn’t wait the Christmas to get his gifts, but the surprise of the storyline is he was trying to give his gift to his parents. This helps to build up a branding culture of John Lewis: love and sharing, which are very traditional values for people to cherish and especially in holidays like Christmas. The third one is also very engaging and it used two different story lines but combined them in one video. It shows people that even if time and people change, love won’t change forever. Even though all of these three videos are not a series of commercials, they all reflect the culture of the brand – love.

  5. zhaoyunw says:

    Thank you for sharing these amazing advertisements with us.

    I love these ads so much. John Lewis are so good at telling stories. Every story is so sweet and beautiful to touch the soul of audiences. In stead of selling the gifts during Christmas season, the ads show the value and spirits of the festival–it is a season about love and love never change. I immediately go to the official website of John Lewis after I watched the ads. They are just so brilliant.

    Furthermore, I love the songs in the ads. The music has the power to calm you down and be in the situation that surrounded by people you care and love. They are warm and sweet at the same time.

    In addition, the final cut of the ads always focus on the gifts. It is a stimulation for the consumers, and it would definitely make the audiences think that I need to buy gifts for the people they love. And love and families will never change across countries and cultures. The ads can attract people from anywhere around the world.