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15th Nov 2019

Every John Lewis Christmas advert ranked from worst to best

Ciara Knight

They’re all winners, except for the ones that aren’t

Since 2007, John Lewis Christmas adverts have become a British institution, officially signifying the beginning of the Christmas season and making it socially acceptable to sometimes cry at the overwhelming beauty contained in an advertisement.

To date, thirteen John Lewis Christmas adverts have been gifted unto us, each varying in themes, soundtracks and the levels of sadness they produce.

So what better way to honour this wonderful tradition than by pitting these standalone advertisements against each other, pointlessly trying to decipher which is the best and, by proxy, which is the worst.

As ever, all decisions are final. Do not @ me or that poor man who is legitimately named John Lewis.

13. From Me To You (2008)

The world was a different place in 2008, the stock market was crashing and someone decided that that was the right time to release a Sex and the City movie. Plant earth was in chaos, so the arrival of a John Lewis Christmas advert had the potential to turn things right around for us all. Except that it didn’t, not really. This ad feels a bit like the interview segment on First Dates, except the daters are all hoping to meet the right appliance / household accessory available from John Lewis’ Christmas range to take home with them at the end of the night. The song is a banger, though, so props to them for finding a small child that can actually sing.

12. Sweet Child O’ Mine (2009)

How dare they try to tug on our fragile little heartstrings by reminding us that Christmas was infinitely better when we were all children. We need to be realistic when looking at this advert. What child truly wants a pair of slippers for Christmas? Or a coffee machine? Or some crockery? It’s nonsense. John Lewis’ advertising department was clearly still finding their feet in 2009, slowly getting on track to producing some of the certified gold that followed. Would Guns N’ Roses approve of their song that Axl Rose originally wrote about his girlfriend being used to sell the concept that time is merely an illusion? Actually, yeah, probably.

11. The Journey (2012)

This one is a smidge unrealistic in the sense that two children aren’t capable of producing such impressive snow people. Their height and assumed strength is way off, it’s just not achievable. But grievances aside, this tells the wonderful story of one snowman’s mission to travel far and wide in the hopes of obtaining some appropriate winter wear for his partner at Christmas. Was it worth it? Does it place a bit too much emphasis on material possessions at a time when the main focus is indeed about buying and receiving a big load of stuff? Probably, but it’s an advert for a department store. They’ve shoehorned in the consumerism aspect and while they have every right to, it would’ve been slightly better if they didn’t.

10.  A Tribute To Givers (2010)

Call me a grinch, but a Christmas advert that starts with the line “It’s a little bit funny” should therefore be, as suggested, at least a small amount funny. Alas, it is not. We get it, wrapping presents is difficult, that’s why gift bags exist. My main issue with this advert is the fact that a dog is left outside during the snow, with nothing more than a stocking to battle against the elements with. Dogs deserve to have a nice Christmas too. ‘Your Song’ is the glue that holds this one together, distracting from its lacklustre message by reminding us that the track is an absolute banger that will simply never not slap.

9. Elton John Lewis (2018)

Is this an advert for John Lewis, or an advert for Elton John? Apologies for the disrespect, but in a feature as unforgiving as this one, such questions simply must be asked. Could the point have been gotten across more effectively without the use of multiple CGI Sir Elton Hercules Johns? For instance, would Jamie Cullum have sufficed? Actually no, probably not. Look, it’s a fine advertisement. It’s okay. It highlights the importance of getting your children decent Christmas presents, but only in the exceptional circumstance of them eventually ending up being Sir Elton John. Don’t waste your money if they’re going to be in The Chainsmokers or something. It’s probably not worth the expense in the long run.

8. The Bear & The Hare (2013)

Hans Christian Andersen is shook. This is the heartwarming tale of a bear that has never seen Christmas before, probably because he was busy with other things, such as carrying a lazy hare on his back for transport and hibernating out of sheer laziness. Still, the hare sees to it that his mate gets to experience Christmas, a concept which animals are somehow now aware of, or at least they were in 2013. It’s cute, but a smidge unrealistic. Still, if you get to the end without feeling a burst of fuzziness inside when the bear arrives on Christmas morning, you are dead inside. He woke up specifically to spend Christmas with the hare. It’s adorable. The world is garbage but those two minutes are heaven. What a banger of a soundtrack, too.

7. Shadow (2007)

Considering this was their very first Christmas advert, John Lewis pulled it off in spectacular fashion. The music wouldn’t be out of place on a Dolmio ad, but that aside, it’s a brilliantly creative way for them to showcase their products, as well as demonstrate how easy it is to train robins if you put in the effort. If I have to nitpick, which I eternally do, the volume of confetti is misleading. There’s no way that child threw enough in one single fistful to result in the continuous stream of it falling for as long as it does, but that’s the only black mark I can see. They made a dog out of a goddamn lampshade, a tiny rug and what appears to be a very large bong. This is witchcraft, plain and simple. These people are wizards.

6. Moz The Monster (2017)

WHY DID HE HAVE TO GET RID OF THE MONSTER? WHAT KIND OF ANIMAL WROTE THIS AD? There was no need for Moz to go away, he and the boy were getting on just fine. They were having a wonderful time together, engaging in various adorable activities to pass the night away. Sure, the kid was exhausted all the time, but that was nothing a can of Monster Energy drink wouldn’t fix. This was all the Dad’s fault. He looked furious at that football game when his idiot son didn’t save the goal. He was embarrassed. The other Dads’ kids can stay awake for an entire match, not like his dumb boy. He did this on purpose. The man is a pig. Lock him up and throw away the key. Bring back Moz.

5. Excitable Edgar (2019)

Yeah, fair enough, this latest offering is damn near flawless. Edgar is horny for fun, friendship and maybe more, but his pesky flaming nostrils keep ruining everything. It’s easy to mark him down as a tortured soul, but we can’t gloss over the fact that in the ultimate act of narcissism, he’s gotten a custom-made door knocker and affixed it to his front door. That speaks volumes about his character, quite frankly. Still, if you had told me a decade ago that I’d start crying at the sight of a tiny dragon flambéeing a Christmas pudding to the soundtrack of Bastille, I would’ve said “Who the fuck is Bastille?” and also “Damn” and “I can’t fight this feeling anymore”. It’s a good advert. Edgar is welcome at my house for Christmas.

4.  The Long Wait (2011)

*Stefon from SNL voice* This ad has everything. It taps into the excruciating wait for Christmas when you were younger, where the time between school finishing up and the arrival of Christmas day took what felt like 75 years to pass. Possibly John Lewis themselves are to blame for this premature excitement, given that they’ve just released their latest Christmas ad on 14th November, but let’s park that issue for the moment. What this particular advert gets extremely right is the big emotional reveal at the end, where the kid bursts out of bed at 8am (ambitious, tbf) on Christmas morning, not to open his own presents, but to deliver one to his parents. If you don’t get chills watching this one, you are truly made of stone.

3. Buster The Boxer (2016)

Animals! Are! People! Too! They want to have a quick bounce on the trampoline, just like you and I. They experience rage towards people that hog the trampoline, just like you and I. John Lewis’ people have tapped into something very special in this advert, somehow managing to pull off a legitimately funny piece of content married with a heartwarming message about the importance of learning how to share. I have no idea how they made it, I don’t know if those animals are CGI or just incredibly talented yet furry actors. It’s brilliant and makes me want both a trampoline and an assortment of woodland animals to share it with. And a dog as well. And parents who love me, lol.

2. Man On The Moon (2015)

Throw all logic out the window because it has no place here. Immerse yourself in the wonder that unfolds, whereby you’re reminded that elderly people get lonely at Christmas and you should do your best to reach out to them, even if that means sending them a gift via multiple helium balloons to reach their place of residence which just so happens to be on the moon. Don’t wait for your child with an impressively powerful telescope to do it, set an example and show them how to be a decent person from a young age. It’s absolutely mandatory that you shed a tear in perfect sync with the old man at the end of this advert, otherwise you are scum.

1. Monty The Penguin (2014)

Obviously, OBVIOUSLY it was always going to be Monty the bloody penguin coming in first place. If you watched this ad back in 2014 and didn’t request a penguin for Christmas, you had far more self control over your irrational desires than the rest of us. Monty is a goddamn delight and over the course of 130 seconds, the good folk at John Lewis have somehow managed to create a more gripping story than most movies can do in 90 minutes.

Monty is a romantic at heart, he craves love just like the rest of us. Sure, he can distract himself with other activities such as taking the bus and going snow sledding, but it’s real love he’s after. The song is a banger, the story is exquisite, the ending is chillingly beautiful. Take everything, John Lewis. Take my money, take my family. Have it all. This is how you do a Christmas advert. Please believe me when I say that I would die for you, Monty the penguin.