John Lewis Unwraps 2023 Christmas Ad

Despite it only being November, the festive season is upon us. One British tradition that signals its arrival is the eagerly anticipated John Lewis Christmas ad. This year, the retail giant took a departure from its tear-jerker style, opting for a more light-hearted and wholesome approach.

The star of the show is a young boy named Alfie. Alfie embarks on a unique Christmas adventure with his ‘Grow Your Own Perfect Christmas Tree’ kit, leading to the unexpected growth of a Venus flytrap named Snapper.

The Evolution of John Lewis Christmas Adverts

Before delving into the latest ad, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit the heartwarming tales that have become a part of British Christmas culture over the past 15 years. From the inaugural “Shadows” in 2007 to the heartwarming “An Unexpected Guest” in 2021, each ad has left an indelible mark on audiences worldwide, becoming a much-anticipated annual tradition.

The last 10 years of John Lewis Christmas Ads –

  • The Journey (2012)
  • The Bear and Hare (2013)
  • Monty The Penguin (2014)
  • The Man on The Moon (2015)
  • Buster for The Boxer (2016)
  • Moz The Monster (2017)
  • The Boy & The Piano (2018)
  • Excitable Edgar (2019)
  • Give a Little Love (2020)
  • Unexpected Guest (2021)
  • The Beginner (2022)

The Allure of John Lewis Christmas Adverts

What is it about these adverts that turns them into a cultural phenomenon every Christmas? The answer lies in a well-defined touching message and a consistent branded marketing strategy. The John Lewis Christmas advert has mastered the art of delivering a simple yet powerful message—leave no one behind on Christmas day.

This consistent theme of spreading love and joy resonates with audiences, making it a staple in the festive season.

A Symphony of Christmas Ads

The festive advertising arena is bustling with creativity this year. Asda brings back Michael Bublé as its chief quality officer, making decisions about the nation’s Christmas feast.

Sainsbury’s, on the other hand, features 1980s icon Rick Astley alongside real supermarket workers as they explore Santa’s Christmas dinner. These ads, each with its unique charm, contribute to the overall festive spirit, and social media plays a significant role in amplifying their impact.

Celebrities and Christmas Ad Campaigns

In the competitive landscape of Christmas advertising, many retailers choose to recruit famous faces to front their campaigns. From Michael Bublé and Rick Astley to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, A-list stars have become a common sight in this year’s festive ads. The utilisation of celebrities is viewed as a safe bet, with cultural currency and familiarity playing a crucial role.

Sascha Darroch-Davies, co-founder of creative music agency DLMDD, sheds light on the trend, stating that celebrities are a formula that has worked before, especially during a tough time for retailers.

This insight into the use of celebrities provides a fascinating perspective on the marketing strategies adopted by brands during the festive season.

Competing Narratives: John Lewis vs. M&S

While John Lewis focuses on changing traditions with its heartwarming tales, Marks and Spencer (M&S) suggests a different approach in its Christmas ads.

M&S encourages people to do away with Christmas traditions they no longer love. However, a controversy arose when an outtake from the M&S ad, featuring hats resembling the colours of the Palestinian flag burning in a fireplace, led to public criticism.

The incident raises questions about the sensitivity of advertising during the festive season.

The Power of Christmas Ads in a Record-Breaking Season

According to new data by the Advertising Association and World Advertising Research Centre, advertisers are set to spend a record £9.5bn during this festive season.

This staggering figure indicates the significance of Christmas ads in the marketing landscape. Advertisers, aware of the cost of living crisis, opt for safe and empathetic narratives to resonate with consumers.

If executed correctly, these ads can transcend their commercial purpose, becoming cultural moments embedded in the history of television.

The Social Media Perspective

Social media platforms have become the battleground for opinions on Christmas ads. Users on Twitter, X, and other platforms express their delight, disappointment, or amusement, creating a real-time narrative around each ad.

As the 2023 Christmas ad dropped in early November, social media platforms were ablaze with reactions. The storyline featuring a boy and a giant Venus flytrap drew mixed opinions. Some hailed it as uplifting during a challenging time, while others found it “scary” and questioned the creative inspiration behind it, with references to “Little Shop Of Horrors.”

The use of hashtags, memes, and viral content amplifies the reach and impact of these campaigns, turning them into cultural phenomena.

Opinions were divided, creating a buzz on social media platforms like Instagram and X. However, amidst the criticism, there were those who appreciated the ad for offering light relief during the holiday season.


As we embrace the festive season, the John Lewis Christmas ad continues to be a beacon of tradition, love, and joy.

The 2023 edition, with its unique twist, has sparked conversations and debates on social media, further emphasising the role of these ads in contemporary culture.

Whether it’s the heartwarming narratives, the star-studded casts, or the occasional controversies, Christmas ads have become more than just marketing tools—they are an integral part of our shared cultural experience. So, as we gather around our screens to watch these festive tales unfold, let the magic of Christmas ads transport us to a world of warmth, laughter, and, of course, spirited social media discussions.

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