John Lewis has released an upbeat Christmas ad featuring wild animals and a family dog larking about on a new trampoline, in a departure from the emotion-laden tearjerkers of recent years.
The highly-anticipated ad - considered a marker of the start of the UK Christmas shopping season - begins with a dad carrying out last-minute assembly of his daughter’s secret showstopper present on Christmas Eve as she bounces excitedly on the sofa.
The two-minute ad’s computer-generated stars - a couple of foxes, a badger, a squirrel and even a hedgehog who has ventured out of hibernation - later conduct a midnight test of the trampoline in front of furious Buster the boxer, who is stuck inside the house, before he finally gets his turn on Christmas morning.
The retailer said it had aimed for a sense of fun in this year’s campaign, after 2016 had proved to be “quite a year”, and comes after it acknowledged “a few murmurings” that last year’s Man On The Moon was “a bit sad”.
The ad is set to a cover of Randy Crawford’s 1980 jazz hit One Day I’ll Fly Away by London electronic group Vaults, who recorded it at Abbey Road studios with a 70-strong choir and 66-piece orchestra.
The Wildlife Trusts are this year’s charity partners for the campaign, and they will receive a donation from every £15 soft Buster or £12 soft wild animal toy sold in connection with the ad.
Craig Inglis, customer director at John Lewis, said: “2016 has certainly been quite a year, so we hope our advert will make people smile. It really embraces a sense of fun and magic, reminding everyone what it feels like to give the perfect gift at Christmas.
“Each year we work with a charity which fits our ad, and we hope this year’s campaign will encourage more children to discover a love of British wildlife and encourage support of The Wildlife Trusts.”
The Wildlife Trusts’ chief executive Stephanie Hilborne said: “The Wildlife Trusts believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy of wildlife and wild places in their daily lives.
“So John Lewis putting some of our most beautiful British wild animals at the centre of their Christmas advert and making The Wildlife Trusts their charity of choice this Christmas is great news.
“With this support we will be able to inspire thousands more children about the wonders of the natural world.”
The ad, named Buster The Boxer, was created by adam&eveDDB and directed by Dougal Wilson, who also helmed three previous John Lewis Christmas ads including 2011’s The Long Wait, 2012’s The Journey and 2014’s Monty’s Christmas.
John Lewis declined to put a price on the ad, saying only that its budget was similar to previous years, when it spent around £1 million on putting each campaign together and another £6 million on television slots.
The ad launches at 8am today on John Lewis’s website and social media channels and on Sky, and the full version screens for the first time on terrestrial television at around 9.15pm on ITV1.
Other major retailers set to reveal their Christmas campaigns within the next few days include Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s.