An exuberant young dragon called Edgar who almost derails festivities in his fire-breathing excitement is the star of John Lewis’s first joint Christmas campaign with Waitrose.
The eagerly anticipated ad is a return to familiar territory for John Lewis, which ended a decade of heart-warming tearjerkers featuring loveable animals and charming children last year with a star turn from Sir Elton John.
Excitable Edgar is set to a recording of REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling by Dan Smith from the band Bastille, and was filmed over two weeks in Budapest with an extras cast of around 100 people.
It follows Edgar as his excitement about festivities in his village sees him accidentally melting the ice-rink, reducing a snowman to a puddle and setting fire to a Christmas tree as his anxious friend Ava looks on.
Edgar finally shuts himself away in despair, but Ava encourages him to rejoin the village with the gift of a Christmas pudding, which allows him to put his fire to perfect use.
The ad’s creators said they were struggling to come up with the “perfect ending” until the idea of involving Waitrose led to the Christmas pudding finale.
As in previous years, the ad encourages engagement with a good cause. This year it is food poverty charity FareShare, with “feasts” to be held in John Lewis shops and community venues ahead of Christmas.
A full range of Edgar merchandise is available, including a £15 cuddly toy, a Waitrose & Partners No.1 12 Months Matured Christmas Pudding for £8, as well as Waitrose Edgar cupcakes, ‘Chocolate Edgars’ and a £1.50 gingerbread biscuit.
John Lewis customer director Craig Inglis said: “I’m delighted our two brands have come together for this year’s Christmas campaign.
“It started from a spark of an idea – a little dragon’s excitement about Christmas – and became the story of how someone goes the extra mile for their best friend to give just the right gift.
“It’s a funny, heart-warming story that will resonate with our customers as they seek out the perfect gifts for their loved ones this Christmas.”
Partners at John Lewis and Waitrose have the first opportunity to share the ad across their social media channels from 6am on Thursday, and it first airs on television during ITV’s The X Factor on Saturday November 16.
The retailers declined to put a price on the ad, created once again by the adam&eveDDB agency, only saying that it was a “natural next step” in bringing the two brands together.
Previous John Lewis Christmas campaigns have involved budgets of around £1 million on putting each ad together and another £6 million on placement.
John Lewis, which is part of the employee-owned partnership that also owns Waitrose, has had a tough year, reporting underlying losses before tax and staff bonuses of £25.9 million for the six months to July 27, against profits of £800,000 a year earlier.
Waitrose performed better, with underlying earnings increasing 14.7% to £110.1 million, though comparable sales edged 0.4% lower.
John Lewis’s ad follows big-budget campaigns from retailers including Argos, Asda, Amazon, Ikea and Sainsbury’s, with more expected to follow over the weekend.