John Lewis and Waitrose celebrate the power of kindness this Christmas

It’s kindness that won out in 2020, as John Lewis and Waitrose want to remind us this Christmas in a new campaign asking us all to ‘Give a Little Love’.

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE


The funny thing about a nation in the depths of crisis is that it seems to throw up both the best and the worst of humanity. As the pandemic has lengthened and many people’s situations only worsened, we’ve seen communities come together spearheaded by a young footballer to feed hungry children, neighbourhoods stepping up to support one another and the spirit of a veteran on his 100th birthday, walking the length of his garden for the NHS.

It’s kindness that has won out in 2020, even despite the relentless news cycle and uncertainty that underpins each of our lives. And its kindness that John Lewis and Waitrose have placed at the heart of this year’s Christmas campaign, launching aptly, on National Kindness Day. 

‘Give a Little Love’ from adam&eveDDB takes us on a journey through the streets of a town, from playing children to friendly neighbours and a helpful passing snowman to encourage the nation to give each other a little love.

As Pippa Wicks, Executive Director of John Lewis, said: “We recently set out our ambition for our business to be a force for good, so we decided that this year was the year to break the mould and do something different.”

Kindness breeds kindness

The two-minute ad is a celebration of different forms of moving art from animation to CGI and cinematography. The different mediums gave space to eight different leading artists to create the nine vignettes, each able to showcase the power of creative storytelling in their own way. They included Chris Hopewell, Andy Gent & Anthony Farquhar Smith, Sylvain Chomet, Anete Melece, MegaComputeur, Anna Mantzaris and Shotopops.

This creative approach was designed to offer opportunities to as many people as possible in the creative industries, people who have seen their work pipeline devastated by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The scenes are connected by acts of giving, which channel the direction of the film as a heart is passed on. It’s a motif designed to symbolise how kindness breeds kindness, how even the smallest act of kindness is as essential as the largest. Because it is in the passing on of kindness that each of us as individuals can positively impact the world around us.

As Wicks explains: “The pandemic has proved that it’s our small acts of love and kindness, particularly in challenging times, that captures what it is to be human and when one small act of kindness multiplies it can have a lasting impact.”

This feeling is captured in the soundtrack, for the first time a new song commissioned specifically for the Christmas campaign. ‘A Little Love’ is written and performed by British soul singer Celeste who in January 2020 was crowned BBC Music’s Sound of 2020. Every time the track is downloaded, Celeste and her record company Polydor will make a 10p donation to the campaign.

The creative team also worked with post-graduate students from Kingston University, Amelia Fowler, Marta Pinto, Leksey Lee and Bella McEvoy to create a complimentary 30-second film, each individual chosen because of their joyful and humble styles. Both campaigns were directed by renowned British director Oscar Hudson.

When one small act of kindness multiplies it can have a lasting impact.

Pippa Wicks

Community spirit

The advertising is just one element of the campaign which sees John Lewis and Waitrose aiming to raise £4 million for two charities: FareShare, which helps those facing food poverty and Home-Start, which works with parents who need support. Shop Partners will also donate £1 million to charities who support families in their local communities.

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive at FareShare, commented on the work that the charity is doing as the pandemic only looks set to carry through into the New Year: “We continue to provide over two million meals per week to vulnerable communities across the UK, and more than two thirds of the food we distribute goes to children and families, so we know that there is a real need for our work at this time.”

Since the pandemic started FareShare has had to double the amount of food it distributes to meet the rising demand, and over one third of Home-Start centres have seen an increase in demand for its services. 

Peter Grigg, Chief Executive at Home-Start, said: “Families are running on empty. The pandemic has been hard for all families, but it’s been toughest on those already facing challenges around mental health, low incomes, and other challenges in their lives. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness shown in our communities during the pandemic, but I know there is so much more to do.”

Customers similarly will be asked to show a little love this Christmas, in different ways. From making a charity donation to buying campaign products with 100% of profit donated to the charities, using their loyalty card to increase the Partnership’s donation or giving a little love to someone they know who needs it and helping in their local community.  

Any customer donations up to the value of £2 million will be matched by the John Lewis Partnership, continuing the charitable support that the organisation has prioritised throughout the pandemic. Since the pandemic broke out the Partnership has committed £2.7 million to charities and local communities. While Waitrose has recently passed the three million milestone for meals redistributed to those that need them through the FareShare scheme and the supermarket will continue to donate surplus food.

Grigg adds, “I am so proud that John Lewis and Waitrose are supporting Home-Start with this amazing campaign. With the help of John Lewis and Waitrose Partners and customers we will be able to work with more families when they need us most.”

Not just for Christmas

This Christmas for many people and their families won’t be the one they were expecting when they made their new year wish on the 1st January 2020. It’s been a difficult, near impossible year for so many but the message at the heart of this campaign is a vital one. 

As James Bailey, Executive Director of Waitrose, said: “Each year festive adverts come and go and some are remembered more vividly than others. But our advertising this year will leave a lasting legacy and in that way, we hope it won’t just be for Christmas.”

From supporting creatives at every level of their career to placing charitable support at the heart of this year’s Christmas campaign, John Lewis and Waitrose, supported creatively by adam&eveDDB, are practising what they preach, giving love and support where it’s needed most.

Because acts of kindness matter. Whether big or small, we all have the power and ability to change someone’s day for the better. So, this Christmas, how about you give a little love?

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