Sir Elton John is the star of this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert with his performance of Your Song the soundtrack to a festive-tinged retrospective of his life and career.
The ad, called The Boy and the Piano, opens with a dressing-gown clad Sir Elton gently tapping out the opening notes to Your Song – his first major hit.
Viewers are then taken back through key moments in his life with scenes of him on stadium tours, travelling on a private jet, recording Your Song, playing the piano in a local pub and performing in a school recital.
The commercial ends with a four-year-old Elton running down the stairs on Christmas morning and unwrapping his grandmother’s gift of her piano – a scene “inspired by real events”, but involving “some creativity”, the department store said.
With the exception of the present-day opening scene featuring Sir Elton himself, actors take on the role of him at various stages of his life, while the images of the stadium based on a concert in Portland in the US were entirely recreated with computer-generated imagery.
It is the second of the retailer’s Christmas ads to feature Your Song after singer Ellie Goulding recorded a cover for the 2010 campaign.
Sir Elton said: “The John Lewis Christmas campaign has so many warm memories for me and my family.
“It’s been a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on and how first playing my grandmother’s piano marks the moment when music came into my life.”
John Lewis customer director Craig Inglis said: “The ad tells the story of why Elton’s piano was more than just a gift and we hope to remind customers of that special moment when they’ve given a gift at Christmas time that they know will be treasured forever.”
John Lewis addressed speculation about the cost of this year’s ad, describing reports it had paid Sir Elton £5 million as “wildly inaccurate”. It added Sir Elton had requested a portion of his fee be donated to the Elton John Charitable Trust when he was first approached to be involved.
The retailer, which reported a 98.8 per cent profits crash for the first half of the year in September, said the ad was a “crucial part” of its overall marketing campaign and “one of the most effective marketing campaigns in the industry, delivering an excellent return on investment”.
John Lewis and Waitrose employees were to be given the first opportunity to share the two minute, 20 second ad at 6am today. The ad first airs on television today at 9:15pm during ITV’s Dark Heart.