In the U.K., watching retailer John Lewis’ Christmas ad is as much of a festive ritual as decorating the tree or exchanging gifts. This year, with a different agency and marketing strategy, the brand is hoping to cement its role in both old and new holiday traditions.
This latest campaign from John Lewis will be more closely scrutinized after the business changed agencies earlier this year, ending its 14-year relationship with adam&eveDDB and appointing Publicis Groupe-owned Saatchi & Saatchi. It was one of the biggest recent account shakeups in the British ad industry, and came amid ongoing struggles at the retail group, which also owns supermarket Waitrose.
The new ad, titled “Snapper,” follows the unusual tale of a Venus flytrap. While at a flea market with his family, a boy discovers a seed packet promising to grow into the “perfect Christmas tree.”
Instead, a carnivorous plant emerges from the soil. Though the boy loves Snapper, the mischievous plant causes disruption and is eventually banished outside after it grows too big for the house.
On Christmas morning, the boy leaves his family’s normal tree to bring a gift to the Venus flytrap. Snapper spits out confetti and gifts in return, inspiring the family to embrace an unconventional addition to the festivities.
The ad ends with the tagline “Let your traditions grow,” and shares a message about “making space for others and adapting new traditions,” according to John Lewis marketing director Rosie Hanley.
Building on a franchise
The brand’s focus on traditions—which Saatchi & Saatchi presented in the pitch—is a shift away from its previous positioning about thoughtful gifting. The new platform “gives [John Lewis] more breadth and a bigger role” to play in people’s full holiday experience beyond just gifting, Hanley explained.
“As people change and grow, their traditions change and grow. John Lewis as a modern retailer wants to change and grow what we offer our customers,” she said. “Traditions allow us all to have common ground in a divided country and across generations.”