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John Lewis unveils blockbuster Christmas ad starring Elton John

Lauretta Roberts
15 November 2018

In a year when advertisers are pulling back on big TV spots and focusing their efforts on getting customers spending, John Lewis has done the opposite and pulled another blockbuster ad out of the bag for Christmas.

The Boy & The Piano goes heavy on story and sentiment and shows superstar singer/songwriter Elton John's life story in reverse. The story starts with Elton apparently sitting at his first piano in his front room and flashes back to key moments in his career from playing Wembley to appearing in his first school performance and ends with the Christmas when he apparently received the piano in question that had previously belonged to his grandmother.

Running for two minutes and 20 seconds to the soundtrack of Elton's most famous his Your Song, it ends with the line "Some gifts are more than just a gift". Released this morning it has already had a positive response on Twitter though some have pointed out that the piano in question cannot be bought from John Lewis, but that's beside the point. The message is that a good gift can change a life and not just for the person who receives it.

Craig Inglis, Partner and Customer Director, John Lewis & Partners said: "Think back to all of the Christmases that you have enjoyed over the years - I’m sure there is one very special gift that stands out above all others. That's the magical feeling we wanted to bring to life this year. The ad tells the story of why Elton's piano was more than just a gift and we hope to remind customers of that special moment when they've given a gift at Christmas time that they know will be treasured forever."

Speculation that the partnership had invested heavily in the ad and in securing Elton's services were "wildly inaccurate" it said in a statement, saying that its spend was in line with previous years and that Elton had requested a portion of his fee be donated to the Elton John Charitable Trust.

"The John Lewis Christmas campaign has so many warm memories for me and my family. It's been a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing my Grandmother's piano marks the moment when music came into my life. The ad is absolutely fantastic and I've truly loved every minute of being a part of it," Elton said.

While the blockbuster ad is still ad the centre, the campaign is the retailer's most experiential yet with John Lewis Oxford Street flagship shop hosting a 2,000 sq ft experiential space on the 3rd floor where customers can explore the dressing room, recording studio and living room sets from the ad, and interact with props, listen to recordings from Elton John's 17-11-70 album and have photos taken at the piano. The shop, along with 14 further shops across the UK, will also have a Yamaha piano for customers to play.

In a first for the UK high street, customers will also be able to enjoy a musical light show, being projected from the shop's Oxford Street windows every 30 minutes from 4pm. Performing Elton John's Christmas classic, Step Into Christmas, the shop's window displays will fill Britain's busiest shopping street with music and display a one minute light show to entertain passers by.

The ad was created by John Lewis's long-standin agency adam&eveDDB in collaboration with Rocket Entertainment, alongside Manning Gottlieb OMD for media planning and buying. It was directed by Seb Edwards from Academy Films.

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