Loving the alien? John Lewis tries extra-terrestrial Xmas

john_lewis_christmas_ad_2021_2Those who despise Christmas in November might not be best pleased but John Lewis has launched its 2021 ad campaign nearly a fortnight earlier than normal, featuring what is claimed to be a “joyful story of friendship” with an alien – and an interactive experience for loyalty club members to boot.

The annual campaign, which for many marks the beginning of the festive period, this year sees Waitrose booted out and an alien called Skye drafted in to tell the tale of a Christmas friendship between the space traveller and a young boy called Nathan.

Nathan discovers and befriends Skye after seeing her spaceship crash land 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 a tree with fairy lights, he even gives her her first mince pie.

Once Skye has fixed the spaceship, Nathan presents her with 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 star on a Christmas tree in the distance.

John Lewis reckons that through these shared moments, we see the magic of Christmas through the eyes of someone who has never experienced it before. Only time will tell whether others agree.

The soundtrack to the ‘Unexpected Guest’ is performed by Lola Young, a 20 year old singer-songwriter from South London, a rehash of Together in Electric Dreams, released by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder in 1984.

This year, 3.7 million My John Lewis loyalty club members had the opportunity to see the ad first, through exclusive email access from 6.30am today (Thursday); it launched 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, during The Pride of Britain Awards.

My John Lewis members will also be able to interact with the ad, through 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 ad 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 ads waiting to be found. New and exclusive content will be launched within the game on a weekly basis such as behind the scenes footage not seen anywhere else.

To support the ad, ten ‘Christmas Emporiums’ wil be opened, where customers will be able to get up close to Skye’s ship and create and share an interactive gif on social media. There will also be two Snapchat lenses available on the day of launch; the first, a selfie lens, which lets customers become space-travellers and the second is an outward facing lens, which lets users play with Skye’s spaceship in their own world.

The annual merchandising bunfight will see a version of Nathan’s Christmas jumper that he gifts to Skye available in shops and on johnlewis.com in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes (a snip at £14 to £29); the retailer will donate 10% of the profits for each jumper sold equally to charities FareShare and Home-Start UK.

And, naturally, all the products featured in the ad are from John Lewis, customers will be able to shop key scenes and make purchases directly from them.

John Lewis director of customer Claire Pointon said: “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.”

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