John Lewis takes the prize in the latest Thinkboxes vote

"The boy and the piano" ad, which tells us "some gifts are more than just a gift" is the winner of the latest Thinkboxes Awards for TV ad creativity.

The ad for John Lewis & Partners was created by Adam & Eve/DDB and features a retrospective of Elton John's career, dating back to when he was given a piano when a small boy.

The aim was to breathe new life into the strategy of "Thoughtful gifting." Becky Brock, director of marketing at John Lewis, said the retailer has no set formula when it comes to making ads, but that a strong story that elicits a powerful response is the basis for a great TV spot.

The Thinkboxes Awards for TV ad creativity are run in partnership with Campaign and voted for by the Thinkbox Academy of senior creatives. The ads in contention ran in November/December.

The Christmas ad typically generates the biggest return on marketing investment of any of John Lewis's commercials throughout the year and competition within the agency to come up with the right script is intense. More than 300 scripts were written for this campaign and work began on it a full year ago.

The ad was directed by Seb Edwards at Academy Films who changed the course of its execution when he insisted on shooting everything rather than rely on stock footage, as was previously planned.

  • Creative agency: adam&eveDDB
  • Creative team: Mike Sutherland, Ant Nelson, Rick Brim
  • Client: Craig Inglis, Becky Brock, Liz LeBreton, Emma Wood and Holly Kicul
  • Production company: Academy Films
  • Director: Seb Edwards

Other ads on the podium

Amazon "Can you feel it"

Amazon’s campaign glories in the company’s most obvious outward manifestation – the box. We see multitudes of Amazon packages on the move, from warehouses to delivery vans… and ultimately into people’s hands. On each box, the Amazon smile logo is animated so it can sing, creating a global choir of boxes giving us a spirited rendition of the Jackson Five classic, Can You Feel It. We close on a shot of a little girl, staring into a snow globe, anticipating Christmas.

  • Creative agency: Lucky Generals 
  • Creative team: Danny Brooke-Taylor, Nick Bird, Lee Smith 
  • Client: Simon Morris 
  • Production company: Sonny 
  • Director: Fredrik Bond

KFC "Crossroads"

KFC brings us a classic Western genre stand-off, featuring a couple of unexpected protagonists in an unlikely, if festive, landscape. When a giant chicken crosses the path of a huge turkey in a snowy field, they face each other down, the music goes into tension-inducing mode, and there are nice Clint-Eastwood-style editing touches as we cut back and forth, eyeball to eyeball. In the end, the turkey turns tail, proving that seasonal poultry may come and go, but chicken’s here to stay.

  • Creative agency: Mother 
  • Creative team: Mother 
  • Client: Monica Pool 
  • Production company:MJZ 
  • Director: Nicolai Fuglsig

Sainsbury’s "The Big Night"

A familiar seasonal scene – backstage mayhem, parents seating themselves in the school auditorium, the curtains pulling back to reveal a stage-struck star performer who’s so nervous she can barely open her mouth. Then, following an nod of encouragement from her mother, she really finds her voice, begins belting out a version of You Get What You Give, and the Christmas show really takes off. Proving, naturally, that "We give all we’ve got for the ones we love."

  • Creative agency: Wieden & Kennedy London 
  • Creative team: Philippa Beaumont, Andrew Bevan, Freddy Taylor 
  • Client: Laura Boothby 
  • Production company: Partizan 
  • Director: Michael Gracey

Waitrose & Partners "Fast Forward"

Witty Christmas mischief here from Waitrose as it shows us a family watching the blockbuster John Lewis ad featuring Elton John (see above). They instantly become impatient – and fast forward, making John warble like a demented chipmunk in the process, until they get to the end of the ad and can get on with the really interesting business of tucking into a festive Stollen. They quite like the Elton ad – so emotional! – but they’re clearly far more interested in Stollen, which they’ll buy, obviously, at Waitrose.

  • Creative agency: Adam & Eve/DDB 
  • Creative team: Sali Horsey, Zoe Nash 
  • Clients: Martin George, Rupert Ellwood, Jo Massey, Alia Ahmad 
  • Production company: Outsider 
  • Director: James Rouse

Click here to see who won the previous award

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