Monty the Penguin

John Lewis Christmas Adverts: My Definitive Ranking

Every year, there’s one telly event that us Brits look forward to, and that’s the launch of the John Lewis Christmas advert. Over the years they’ve graced us with some fantastic ads that have really pulled at the heartstrings and got us feeling all warm inside in the run up to Christmas. After the absolute steaming pile of shite that 2020 has been, I think we were all eagerly anticipating the arrival of this year’s ad, which was released a couple of weeks ago, and it got me reminiscing over the ads we’ve seen from them over the years. From annoying little dragons to excitable dogs, there’s certainly been something for everyone over the years when it comes to the brand’s Christmas adverts. So much so, that I decided to take a look back over the last ten years to put together my definitive list of the best John Lewis adverts, especially seeing as we could all do with a little bit of Christmas cheer right now.

10: Buster the Boxer (2016)

After the previous two years of bringing us ads that just completely broke us emotionally (more on that later), Buster the Boxer was all about a little girl whose parents bought her a trampoline for Christmas, which was left outside in their garden. Their dog, Buster, ends up witnessing a whole gang of woodland animals living their best lives on the trampoline. On Christmas morning when the little girl discovers her present, Buster runs out and beats her to it by leaping onto it and bouncing his little socks off. It’s cute, and as an animal lover it made me smile, but over the last couple of years I had been used to the pool of tears that the John Lewis adverts had turned me into, so in a way, it was a little disappointing.

9: The Bear and the Hare (2013)

This one’s quite the throwback – the animated John Lewis ad The Bear and the Hare goes way back to 2013 and features a cover of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know by Lily Allen. The premise is simple, a hare gets her bear friend an alarm clock so that he wakes up from hibernation in time to enjoy Christmas. Aw. While this is a lovely heartwarming ad featuring woodland animals, I must admit my love of this ad comes from a quote by my mother. One evening when we were watching TV, the ad came on and she came out with this gem: 

“Can you believe it? That poor little rabbit spent all its money on an alarm clock and what did the bear get him? Fuck all!” 

Take from that what you will. 

8: The Man on the Moon (2015)

I think The Man on the Moon probably wins the prize for the most emotional advert that John Lewis have brought us over the years. Featuring a little girl who tries to reach the elderly man living in a hut on the moon, the ad was created in partnership with Age UK to raise awareness of loneliness in elderly people during the festive season. It certainly gets you right in the feels, and I think if it were released this year after everything that’s happened, it would certainly be even more of an emotional gut-punch.

7: The Boy and the Piano (2018)

I feel a number of people felt a bit ripped off by The Boy and the Piano, which was a nod to Elton John and his bond with music over the years. Many saw it as a way to inadvertently promote Rocketman which was released a couple of months later, and initially, I kind of felt the way myself. However, once I actually saw the film earlier this year, it made me appreciate the ad and the message behind it even more – the fact that something you fall in love with as a child can shape your entire life. I’m not saying you have to have seen Rocketman to appreciate the ad, but I think it certainly helps you to see the powerful meaning behind it.

6: The Long Wait (2011)

If you’ve followed my blog from the start, you’ll probably know that I’m not a fan of ads that heavily feature children – admittedly, that may seem weird given that virtually 90% of the John Lewis ads feature kids in some way – however, The Long Wait was one that really focused on kids enjoying the magic of Christmas. I remember this being one ad that got me feeling a bit guilty – the whole time I was just like “eeh…the spoilt little shit just wants Christmas to hurry up so he can get more stuff” and then of course the whole reason the little boy in the ad is so excited for Christmas is because he wants to give his mum and dad their present. Let’s just shove that huge slice of humble pie right down my gob now, shall we?

5: Excitable Edgar (2019)

Excitable Edgar was probably one of the best John Lewis ads in recent years – it wasn’t overly sad, but it was still cute and heartwarming enough to get you a tiny bit teary (or was that just me?). I love Edgar – he’s adorable – and I think a lot of people will relate to the whole thing about not fitting in, myself included! I also love the cover of REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore by Bastille – although I can’t listen to it without seeing it as a Christmas song!

4: Give a Little Love (2020)

I think after such a shitty year we were all eagerly anticipating the launch of the John Lewis ad for Christmas 2020. I won’t lie, I expected something AMAZING. I expected tears, warm, fuzzy feelings and a general feeling that everything would be okay. While I certainly got the positive warm and fuzzy feeling, I wasn’t particularly bowled over by this year’s ad. I love all the different kinds of animation and I especially love the pigeons, but I was expecting something much more emotional. But maybe, as we enter these bullshit tiers of unhappiness in the run up to Christmas, we don’t need an ad that makes us cry. I don’t know. I for one was certainly hoping for an ad that would be a perfect catharsis from such a shitty year. I’m not slagging it off though, the inspiration behind it is the kindness shown by people throughout the pandemic, which is lovely.

3: Moz the Monster (2017)

Released the year after the John Lewis ad, Buster the Boxer, which took a more humorous approach compared to previous years, Moz the Monster tells the story of a little boy who befriends the monster under his bed. This ad got mixed reviews when it was first released but I actually quite like it – it’s cute and there’s no denying that it gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling.

2: The Journey (2012)

What the actual fuck – I just watched this ad to refresh my memory and I’m crying at two snow figures. First things first, I absolutely adore Gabriella Aplin’s cover of The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood – it’s beautiful and I’ll go as far as saying it’s even better than the original. I think the reason it gets me so much is because it kind of reminds me of Liam (yes, I’ve had a couple of gins). The snowman goes on a journey to get a scarf and gloves for his lady friend because she’s cold. MY HEART. I feel that’s the sort of shit he’d do. I remember at uni after our boiler broke and we were without heating for two weeks (in February where we conveniently also had A LOT of snow), he bought me a blanket to wrap up in. 

1: Monty the Penguin (2014)

Six years on and Monty the Penguin still makes me cry, so it’s no surprise that in my opinion, it’s the best Christmas John Lewis ad. My love of penguins is certainly a deciding factor, but aside from that, if I’m completely honest I genuinely have no idea why it gets me so much – perhaps it’s the thought of an imaginary penguin feeling lonely, I don’t know. Anyway, you know an advert must be emotional when my cold dead gin-soaked heart melts at an advert involving A CHILD. I can’t even listen to the Tom Odell song that features without welling up. I know, I was this much of an emotional mess years before lockdown happened. 

What’s the best John Lewis ad in your opinion? Let me know in the comments!

Featured image from Real Homes.

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