John Lewis flags up care system in purposeful Xmas ad

John-Lewis-Christmas-2John Lewis has ditched the Christmas kitsch for this year’s festive campaign to reinforce its commitment to becoming the employer of choice for young people leaving the care system.

The 90-second ad, entitled ‘The Beginner’, was created by Adam & Eve DDB with input from partner charities Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland, as well as specialist advisors, throughout the production process.

Set to a soundtrack of All the Small Things, a cover of the Blink 182 track performed by Mike Geier, from the opening scene, with Christmas as a backdrop, viewers follow a middle-aged man as he struggles to master the skill of skateboarding.

From car parks to skate parks and even studying videos at work, at first it seems like he is simply having a mid-life crisis, and viewers are left questioning the motive behind his perseverance until the final scene, when the door bell rings.

As the front door opens, we see a social worker standing with Ellie, a young teenager who is waiting anxiously to enter her new foster home, skateboard in hand. The significance of skateboarding becomes clear, to find common ground and a way to connect with Ellie as she is welcomed into the family home.

The TV ad was first released to My John Lewis and My Waitrose loyalty club members this morning and is now available on the John Lewis site and YouTube; it will launch on TV during Friday night’s edition of I’m A Celebrity on ITV.

In a statement, John Lewis said: “In a challenging year, we felt it was important to demonstrate that it’s what we do that matters most. We are proud to use our Christmas advert as a way to generate conversation and action around an often overlooked issue.”

The ad strategy follows the launch of the Building Happier Futures programme from the John Lewis Partnership, which is a long-term commitment to help young people with experience of the care system in a number of ways, including to find meaningful careers.

There are an estimated 100,000 children and young people who will spend this Christmas in care this year, and many young people who have experienced care as children can often feel isolated and forgotten, particularly at Christmas.

John Lewis said it wants them to feel seen this Christmas and to inspire its customers to come together to make a real difference to those that need it.

Ellie’s story is one portrait and the retailer’s broader campaign also features authentic voices of carers and care-experienced young people with different experiences of a complex care system.

The company will directly support children in care and young people leaving care through the tough Christmas period with donations of decorations, food and gifts. Children in care and their caregivers will also be invited into John Lewis to enjoy Santa’s Grotto experiences. Communal spaces of selected residential facilities run by Action for Children will also be transformed with electronics, furnishings and decorations.

Although the ad will not directly raise funds for charity, customers can support purchase a range of Lewis Bear merchandise – including the bear, pyjamas, tote bags, chocolates and baubles, as well as a Rampage Skateboard and Waitrose Christmas Yule Log – with 25% of the sales from these going to Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland.

Customers can also donate through an in-store giving tree, by taking a tag from the tree with a value between £5-£50 and scanning it with their shop.

John Lewis director of customer Claire Pointon said: “We are fortunate to have a truly unique platform in our Christmas ad, which sparks a national conversation. As a purpose-led brand, making a genuine difference in our communities is important.

“At John Lewis, we care deeply about families and recognise that they come in many different forms. For our biggest moment of the year, we decided to focus on one kind of family that is often overlooked.

“We are also very aware that not all care experience outcomes are as positive as Ellie’s. The home Ellie enters is filled with kindness, and the foster father’s actions demonstrate that ultimately, it’s what you do that matters most.”

Action for Children director of policy & campaigns Imran Hussain added: “At Action for Children we want every child to have a safe and happy childhood. Every year, we work with over 40,000 children and young people in, or with experience of, the care system, and we know the challenges and poor outcomes they may face.

“We are delighted to be working with the John Lewis Partnership on its iconic Christmas advert and applaud the company for its work and long-term commitment to shining a light on the issues facing some of the most vulnerable children in the country.

“We believe this partnership will enable us to support and empower more children and young people as they make the transition from care into the adult world.”

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