John Lewis: The Journey

Thinkboxes Winner - November/December 2012

The Thinkboxes - 1st

For a UK retailer, Christmas is the advertising equivalent of the US Super Bowl, when ads are judged to be ‘winners’ or ‘losers’.

For John Lewis, the ad output of which has won multiple awards in recent years and is always looked forward to, the pressure was on to say something appropriate and meaningful, in innovative style.

‘The Journey’, which features a snowman’s epic voyage to find the perfect gift for his snowwoman, pulled it off with aplomb. The long approval process necessitated by the retailer’s partnership structure meant that filming had to take place in the summer, and therefore in New Zealand – where real snow could be found to lend an authentic look.

The 90-, 60- and 30-second cuts of the ad were set to Gabrielle Aplin’s cover of The Power of Love, with proceeds donated to Save The Children. They were also supported by social media, in-store materials, knittable toys and a story book.

‘[This ad] was all about bringing to life the lengths our customers go to to find the perfect gift. It built on the emotional thread of our 2011 campaign but with a fresh creative approach,’ said Craig Inglis, marketing director at John Lewis.

‘I am delighted to have won this Thinkboxes award. It reflects how well our snowman touched the hearts of the UK public, generating an incredible response to the campaign.’

The winning ad from John Lewis was selected from a shortlist drawn up by Thinkbox’s Creative Academy of ad industry experts. The Department of Health’s anti-smoking ad ‘Mutation’ came second, followed by Morrisons’ ‘The Truth’.

Kristian Dean 'Our snowman touched the hearts of the UK public, generating an incredible response'


Craig Inglis
John Lewis

  • Client John Lewis
  • Brief To associate John Lewis with thoughtful giving at Christmas
  • Ad agency Adam & Eve /DDB
  • Creative team Frank Ginger & Shay Redding
  • Production Blink
  • Director Dougal Wilson


Other ads on the podium

Department of Health: Mutation

The Thinkboxes - 2nd The Department of Health wants one million smokers to quit by 2015. But smokers are forgetting how harmful cigarettes are because the damage they cause is happening out of sight, inside the body. This ad shows a bloke having a fag – as he draws on it, part of the paper of the cigarette breaks open to show a sliver of human organ pulsating angrily within. The voiceover explains that smoking causes mutations in the body – and mutations are how cancers start. As the endline says: “If you could see the damage, you’d stop.”

Morrisons: The Truth

The Thinkboxes - 3rd The aim of this campaign was to dramatise a real-world picture of a mum’s hard work creating a family Christmas, rather than serving up the usual cliché of the picture-perfect day. The story is narrated by our mum and it follows her through all the typical trials and tribulations of the run-up to Christmas – exaggerated, in her mind, for comic effect. It was rooted in customer insight indicating that Morrisons has a reputation for understanding its customers and the challenges they face through the festive period.

Also shortlisted for November/December 2012

Acer Aspire S7: VoxFox

This ad shows Megan Fox revealing her hidden ambition to be a marine biologist, thus demonstrating how the Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook helps people “explore beyond limits”. Shot in a spoof documentary style, it shows Fox and her scientific team working to analyse dolphin burbles so that she can have a conversation with the subject of her study: Xenia the dolphin. But, in the end, Fox disappoints her new friend by neglecting to give it a hug as she celebrates this inter-species breakthrough moment with her team.

EE: Mobile Gaming

This spot features EE’s brand advocate, Kevin Bacon, in a tracking shot as he walks between the football pitches of a public park. Bacon illustrates his cult status as the “centre of the universe, connected to everything, everywhere” in a word association sequence that takes us from a film he appeared in, A Few Good Men, to a name-check for the up-for-anything gaming enthusiast Danny Dyer. The brief here was to demonstrate that EE’s 4G service lets you do things that you couldn’t do before – in this case, live, multiplayer, mobile gaming.



The Thinkboxes November / December 2012

John Lewis’ epic Christmas ad, created by Adam & Eve/ DDB, charts a snowman’s fantastical journey across river and mountain, road and city, in search of the perfect gift for his snowwoman. The annual festive commercial from the retailer has become something of a highlight for the industry and public alike and 2012’s creative lives up to expectations with aplomb, winning the Thinkboxes award for November/ December 2012. Craig Inglis, Marketing Director of John Lewis said: ‘This ad was all about bringing to life the lengths our customers go to to find the perfect gift. It built on the emotional thread of our 2011 campaign but with a fresh creative approach.’ The Thinkbox creative academy, made up of over 250 industry experts, voted The Department of Health’s anti-smoking ad ‘Mutation’ second followed by Morrisons’ ‘The Truth’. You can watch all these great ads, and find out who made them, right here