In spite of the strangeness of 2020, there is one Christmassy event that we’ve all been looking forward to here at the It’s Nice That office, and today, it has arrived. It is, of course, the annual John Lewis Christmas advert, highly anticipated by British consumers, and this year, the campaign is all about giving a little bit of love. In a year of hardships, there was more pressure than usual to provide the nation with some joy. So, fittingly, this year’s ad is all about passing on love.
Featuring several different kinds of animation techniques including stop motion, 2D, hand-drawn, felt puppets, claymation and CGI, the creative team behind the ad is made up of famed directors, animators and university graduates. Oscar Hudson heads up the team as director, working with individual artists and animators to turn the script into a storyboard, making his vision come true. An award-winning music director best known for his work for the likes of Radiohead and Bonobo, Hudson collaborated with Sylvain Chomet, Chris Hopewell, Anete Melece, MegaComputeur, Andy Gent and Anthony Farquhar-Smith, Anna Mantzaris and several graduates from Kingston University’s illustration and animation course, to bring the #GiveALittleLove ad to life.
Aiming to warm the hearts of the nation, the production process kicked off back in March, coinciding with the outbreak of Covid-19. The pandemic went on to shape the concept and working processes for the two-minute-long short, inspired by the overwhelming acts of kindness that took place across the country as communities came together to support key workers and one another. “A little love gets passed on, then gets passed on to another person. That’s what we’re going to need this Christmas,” says animation supervisor Anthony Farquhar-Smith in a statement.
The advert launches at the same time as a campaign of the same name to raise £5 million for charities this Christmas. It hopes to help 100,000 families through food redistribution charity FareShare and Home-start, as well as other local charities chosen by visitors to John Lewis stores across the country. It also features a soundtrack by British singer-songwriter Celeste who won a Brit Award earlier this year as breakthrough act. She wrote an original composition with songwriter Jamie Hartman for the ad, which has seen Elton John and Ellie Goulding provide the music in previous years.
As the entire animation components were painstakingly hand made, there were several challenges awaiting the creative team. Hudson, for one, had to find a way to seamlessly blend the variety of styles together through the stop-motion vignettes. The diverse aesthetics also add to the motley collection of characters throughout the ad including a hedgehog, a snowman and urban pigeons, not to mention an array of festive-feeling people.
The entire production was executed in a Covid-secure way, prioritising the health of the creatives involved. As you can imagine, lots of face masks, temperature checks, Covid tests and hand gel were present during the production, ensuring the safety of all crew members. You can find out more about the creative team and the highly complex animation processes here.
A couple of weeks ago we asked some of our favourite creatives to predict what this year’s John Lewis ad would look like. See more here to find out if anyone was successful in their forecasts or not.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.