By John Ensor •
Updated: 09 Nov 2023 • 16:29
Scene from John Lewis' Christmas Advert.
RETAILER John Lewis has launched its Christmas campaign today with an unusual advert called ‘Traditions Grow,’ with more than a nod to the 80s classic film ‘Little Shop Of Horrors.’
In what has become a much-anticipated part of the lead-up to the big day, Christmas adverts are now as much a part of festive traditions as crackers and the King’s speech. The two-minute advert, which was released in full on Thursday, November 9, was masterminded by advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi.
Since 2007, the John Lewis Christmas advert has been a major production, paired with an iconic piece of music. This year they have chosen a world-renowned Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli, to provide the original soundtrack entitled ‘Festa.’
Reportedly, Bocelli is ‘very passionate’ about Christmas, having released his own Christmas album in 2009. This time the 65-year-old singer has collaborated with John Lewis to tell the story of a voracious Venus flytrap called Snapper, in a track recorded in his home studio in Pisa.
This year’s Christmas story revolves around a young boy who finds a mysterious box at a market containing a single seed. The inscription tantalisingly reads: ‘Grow your own perfect Christmas tree,’ with a tagline announcing: ‘Fast-growing.’
The boy, played by Teddy Holton-Frances, plants the seed at home and nurtures it lovingly, eagerly checking on it as the first sprouts start to grow.
Far from being what most people class as a traditional Christmas tree, it turns out to be a Venus flytrap which has its own quirky personality. Rather worryingly it soon reaches the same height as its eight-year-old owner. Before long, Snapper dominates the living room, much to the concern of his sister, mum and grandma.
Despite Teddy trying to show his family that Snapper is the perfect Christmas tree, his family have other ideas. The little boy’s new friend is dragged out into the cold and frosty garden, while they install a traditional Christmas tree in the house,
In a tear-jerk moment, the music takes a melancholy tone while lonely Snapper looks sadly through the window, observing the joys of a family Christmas without him.
The big day arrives and rather than spend time with his family young Teddy unselfishly takes an unwrapped present and places it at the foot of the now enormous Snapper, who is covered in frost.
Teddy’s family decide to join him, bringing their presents along. Unexpectedly Snapper gobbles up the present as if to swallow it whole, but it seems he’s simply helping with the unwrapping, spitting out the presents into the arms of the waiting family.
The message behind the advert is that while it’s perfectly fine to keep old Christmas traditions going, perhaps there is room to be open minded and also embrace new ones as they come along. A sentiment very similar to the Marks and Spencer advert that drew a mixed rection from viewers.
Teddy, the young boy, manages very well to get across the various emotions that everyone feels at Christmas time. From joy to sadness, as many people reflect about the less fortunate and ones who can’t be there for different reasons. Maybe the little actor could be one to look our for in the future.
In his debut role, Teddy who has had no previous acting experience and was picked from around 2,000 other children, when the production company advertised the part in an open audition.
The advert takes the viewer from anticipation to disappointment before concluding with moments of joy and a promise of better things to come. Allegedly, the motivation for the message was prompted by the ‘mood of the nation’ and a ‘tough few years’ that has been the story of the nation and indeed the world.
Speaking to Metro, the Director of Marketing at John Lewis, Rosie Hanley said: ‘Lots of people tell us that the John Lewis ad kicks off the Christmas season for them.
‘So bringing all that together, we were like, do you know what – it feels like it’s a year for a bit more joy and a bit more uplifting. We wanted to bring back the Christmas magic and entertain. We wanted to have a little fun and hopefully that comes through.’
Unbelievably, despite the chilly images, the advert was filmed in Pinner in northwest London on a blazing hot day in August.
The advert would not carry the same meaningful impact or be as effective were it not for the emotive soundtrack, courtesy of Andrea Bocelli, that that accompanies the imagery.
Operatic Italian vocals and Venus flytraps aren’t the most natural sounding of collaborations, but strangely enough the combination works very well, capturing the warm spirit of Christmas.
The song that plays along with the advert is entitled ‘Festa,’ which was written and produced by the Italian duo Le Feste Antonacci. Despite his background in opera, Bocelli is no stranger to working with artists from the world of pop and rock. Similar to the Spanish word ‘fiesta,’ the Italian title ‘Festa’ means celebration.
Andrea commented on his part in the advert: ‘I am delighted to take part in this wonderful and unique tradition of Christmas storytelling.
‘It is very special for me given the great support this will bring to both the John Lewis and Andrea Bocelli foundations. Joy to all of your worlds this Christmas!’
The advert is just under two minutes long, but the Festa song is due to be released in an extended version as a charity single. Proceeds from the sale of the song will be donated to the John Lewis Partnership’s Building Happier Futures charities. The charity is dedicated to supporting young people and families who are in need.
In past Christmas campaigns, John Lewis has chosen music that is well known to the general public. Previous memorable songs have included, The Beatles, ‘From Me To You’ and Guns and Roses, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’.
‘Your Song’ actually made two appearance, the first by Ellie Goulding in 2010 and secondly by the man himself, Sir Elton John in 2018, in an advert entitled ‘The Boy And the Piano.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
Interesting article but I wish you would cut back on your annoying pop up ads which discourages one to bother to read your article.
I don’t expect you will publish this, like many other comments I have made
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