Lily Allen provides the soundtrack with a cover of Keane’s 2004 single Somewhere Only We Know as the hare makes sure his best friend the bear wakes up from hibernation to experience the magic of Christmas morning.
The £7 million campaign was created using hand drawn animations designed by a team including Aaron Blaise, who worked as the supervising animator on the Disney classics Pocahontas and The Lion King.
The retailer, whose Christmas campaigns are considered one of the biggest advertising events of the year, has booked the first break during tomorrow night’s X Factor to debut the full two minute version of the ad.
It is the first time the hit ITV show has devoted the whole slot to one brand, requiring the personal sign-off of its creator and boss Simon Cowell.
John Lewis chief executive Andy Street said the campaign “pays tribute to all of our most memorable childhood Christmases” and was a move by the retailer to “position itself as owning Christmas in the UK”.
The ad opens with the two animals walking through a wintry woodland, but as snowflakes start to fall the hare begins to feel sad as he realises that his friend will soon be leaving to hibernate and will once again miss Christmas.
But the hare finds a way around the problem by gifting the bear an alarm clock - set for 10 minutes to eight, sunrise on Christmas Day - and places it beside him as he sleeps.
Featuring the strapline Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget, the ad ends with the bear waking on Christmas morning for the first time and sitting in front of a decorated tree beside the hare.
John Lewis marketing director Craig Inglis said: “We wanted our advert to reflect the importance of finding the right gift for friends and loved ones, a theme which we have built on for a number of years.
“Through the use of hand-crafted animation, we’re hoping to evoke nostalgia and build anticipation ahead of Christmas.”
The retailer’s increasingly epic campaigns have included last year’s 90-second tale of a snowman making a perilous journey to buy a hat and gloves for his snowwoman companion.
The ad contributed to an overall year-on-year sales increase for John Lewis of 44.3% in the five weeks to Christmas.
But it was not as popular as 2011’s The Long Wait, which showed a boy counting down the days to Christmas so that he could give his parents a present.
The 2011 campaign’s total views on YouTube to date stand at 5.2 million.