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John Lewis Christmas Ad 2021 Is an Alien Encounter that Refreshes the Festive Formula

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Mark Molloy directs 'Unexpected Guest' from adam&eveDDB. The story of Nathan and otherworldly Skye encourages viewers to see the holiday through fresh eyes. Lola Young covers 80s classic 'Together in Electric Dreams'

John Lewis Christmas Ad 2021 Is an Alien Encounter that Refreshes the Festive Formula
Today at 6.30am, John Lewis launched its 2021 Christmas advertising campaign. The two minute advert, entitled ‘Unexpected Guest’, is a joyful story of friendship, which celebrates the magic of Christmas moments experienced for the first time. John Lewis knows its customers are more excited than ever for Christmas, craving joyful moments, togetherness and escapism as so many were unable to celebrate with loved ones last year. 

The film take viewers on a magical Christmas journey, all through the eyes of the lead characters, a young boy called Nathan and the space traveller, Skye. Nathan discovers and befriends Skye, who has landed in the woods beside his home. Their friendship develops as Nathan introduces Skye to many of his family’s festive traditions and brings them to life for her in the woods. They decorate the tree with fairy lights, celebrate the tradition of eating and hosting together, as he encourages her to try her first mince pie, and he also introduces her to the joy of thoughtful gifting by giving her his Christmas jumper. Through these shared moments, we see the magic of Christmas through the eyes of someone who has never experienced it before.  

This year’s soundtrack to the advert is performed by Lola Young, a 20 year old singer-songwriter from South London. The track ‘Together in Electric Dreams’, originally released by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder in 1984, was chosen as a celestial compliment to the advert. Lola is a brilliant up and coming British talent, she was chosen for her rich and unique sound which brings to life the magic of the advert and the friendship that develops on screen.

The ‘Unexpected Guest’ Story

Created in partnership with adam&eveDDB, this year’s ad follows the story of Nathan, a 14 year old boy on his way home from school who spots a flashing light in the distance and chases it to the woods beside his home; it is here that he encounters 14 year old space traveller, Skye and her ship from another galaxy. The ice is broken as Nathan adapts his own Christmas jumper by adding a star and twinkly lights - just like Skye’s. The pair spark a friendship and we watch as Nathan helps her to discover the magic of her first Christmas. 

We then see Nathan introduce her to some of his favourite Christmas moments, bringing her fairy lights from his family’s tree, amazingly she is able to power them herself with her super powers. After a festive meal with family and friends, Nathan brings Skye a mince pie, and she delights at trying this for the first time. Together, their friendship grows while watching Christmas films and playing in the snow. 

The time comes when Skye has fixed her ship and must return to her home planet and the pair are to be separated. It is a bittersweet, heartwarming moment where Nathan gifts her his Christmas jumper, the same one he was wearing when they first met, and the pair say goodbye just before she boards her ship. As Skye leaves, she disappears into the night sky and leaves a twinkling star on a Christmas tree in the distance. Watching all through her eyes reminds us of the magic of a first Christmas, and the moments that matter. 

Premiering on ITV this evening

This year, 3.7m My John Lewis members will see the advert via their exclusive email access from 6.30am before it launches on the John Lewis website and social media channels at 8am. The ad will first air on TV this evening at 8.15pm on ITV, in a special premiere during The Pride of Britain Awards. 

Claire Pointon, Director of Customer says, “There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time and enjoying your favourite festive moments with loved ones. After the last 18 months, we wanted our advert to really celebrate this as we look forward to a brighter future. We know our customers are excited for this festive season more than ever, as they reconnect with family and friends. Through the story of Skye and Nathan we celebrate friendship and  are reminded of the joy of experiencing Christmas for the first time.”

Lola Young, Singer says “I feel super honoured to be a part of this, growing up I always watched the John Lewis Christmas adverts, they’re iconic and so it kinda feels surreal getting asked to be in one. It also means a lot as an up and coming artist to be a part of something this special.  Together In Electric Dreams is a very beautiful song. I love that era of music and I think Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder are incredible. The lyric and soul within the song is something inspirational, fitting to the story within the ad. I feel so excited to be covering it and working with John Lewis.”

This year, the story of the John Lewis advert will be brought to life for customers in ten 'Christmas Emporiums', where they will be able to get up close to Skye’s ship and create and share an interactive gif on social media. To celebrate the ad, there will be two Snapchat lenses available on the day of launch; the first, a selfie lens, which lets you become a space-traveller like Skye and the second is an outward facing lens, which lets the users play with Skye’s spaceship in their very own world. 

A version of Nathan’s Christmas jumper that he gifts to Skye will be available in shops and on in mens, womens and childrens sizes (£14-£29); John Lewis & Partners will donate 10% of the profits for each jumper sold equally to its Give a Little Love charities FareShare and Home-Start UK. The advert will also be easy to explore and shop on the website, all the products featured in the advert are from John Lewis,  customers will be able to shop key scenes and make purchases directly from them.

As a first for us this year, My John Lewis Members* will also be able to interact with the advert, they will have exclusive access to a virtual experience on the app and website, ‘Unexpected Guest: The Experience’. Members will be able to take on the character of Nathan and explore the world of the advert through his eyes, discovering AR characters and downloadable prizes for children such as printable toys and activities. There will also be hidden characters from previous adverts waiting to be found. The brand will be dropping new and exclusive content within the game on a weekly basis such as behind the scenes footage not seen anywhere else.
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Director of Customer: Claire Pointon

Director of Creative and Content: Matt Richmond Head of Brand Marketing

Senior Advertising Manager: Holly Kicul Senior Advertising Executive

VFX Producer: David Keegan Music Supervisor

Sound Engineer: Anthony Moore and Jack Hallett

Sound Producer: Beth Massey

John Lewis & Partners Christmas 2021 “Unexpected Guest”



Chief Creative Officer: Richard Brim

Joint Chief Executive Officer: Tammy Einav

Managing Director: Paul Billingsley

Creative Directors: Matt Gay & Feargal Ballance Copywriter

Executive Producer: Sally Pritchett Integrated Producer

Designer/Typographer: King Henry

Head of Integrated Production: Ben Sharpe

Head of Diversity, Equality & Inclusion : Bukola Garry

Chief Strategy Officer: Martin Beverley Planning Partner

Business Director: Jo Lorimer Account Director

Business Affairs: Layla Husted / Lois Edwards / Gemma Davies

Legal Counsel: Candice Macleod / Tom Campbell / Trine Odin


Media agency: Manning Gottlieb OMD

CEO: Natalie Bell

Managing Director: Katrina Bozicevich Executive Director

Strategy & Planning : Matthew Philip & David Bielenberg

Executive Director, Head of Creativity and Innovation: Tamara Cross AV Media Planners

Digital Video Planners: Erika Maciulyte & Gareth Treacher


Production company: Smuggler

Producer: Ewen Brown

Production Manager: Marketa Husecka

Director: Mark Molloy

D.O.P: Greig Fraser

Production Designer: Nathan Parker

Costume Designer: Rosa Dias

Hair & Makeup Artist: Michele Baylis

Casting: Ali Fearnley


Editing Company: Work Editorial

Editor: Stewart Reeves

Edit Assistant: Rain Keene

Editing Producer: Ellie McNaughtan

Post Production: nineteentwenty

VFX Supervisor: Bill McNamara

2D VFX Supervisor & Creative Director: Ludo Fealy

CG VFX Supervisor: Ben Thomas

2D Artists: Jamie Stitson, Adam McHale, Humayun Mirza, Nicole Palucsis, Jessica Hayes, David Ince, Joseph Dymond, Chrys Aldred, Matt Hutchins

3D Artist: Ivan Tomovic, Andrew Maccabe, Alison Stott, James White, Guido Pagotto, Mike Farrar, David Rencsenyi

DMP & Environment Artist: Emilis Baltrusaitis, Aurelien Ronceray

Motion Graphics: Anthony Scott Concept

Colourist: Kai Van Beers

Colour assist: Elliott Ward


Track Name: Together In Electric Dreams

Music Supervisor: Leland Music (Abi Leland, Ed Bailie & Toby Williams)

Library, Licensed or Commissioned: Licensed Composers

Music Producer: David Kosten

Master: Universal Music Group / Island Records

Publishers: BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited (50%) / Warner Chappell North America Limited (50%)

adam&eveDDB, Thu, 04 Nov 2021 07:15:00 GMT