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John Lewis supports foster children in new Christmas campaign

The retailer has switched up its strategy in response to the challenges of Christmas 2022.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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How do you solve a problem like marketing the excess and expense of Christmas in the midst of a cost of living crisis?

Rather than taking the well-worn paths of escapism or value, John Lewis has changed the record and the creative strategy for its much-anticipated Christmas spot.

The ad, titled ‘The Beginner’ was created by adam&eveDDB, in its fourteenth festive spot for the brand. It launched with a teaser campaign yesterday

The purpose-driven spot raises awareness of children who perhaps won’t experience the joy of togetherness this festive season and focuses on children in foster care.

From togetherness to caring

There are more than 108,000 children and young people in the U.K.’s care system and John Lewis is committed to supporting them. A commitment which sits at the heart of this campaign.

The retailer explained: “In a challenging year, we felt it was important to demonstrate that it’s what we do that matters most. We are proud to use our Christmas advert as a way to generate conversation and action around an often overlooked issue.”

As a purpose-led brand, making a genuine difference in our communities is important.

Claire Pointon, Director of Customer at John Lewis

Changing the Christmas narrative 

This year's festive advert marks a step change for the retailer; rather than focussing on the universal warmth of ‘togetherness’ it has chosen a more challenging story. One which highlights how isolated children can be in the festive season.

There is still the trademark warmth, and soundtrack of a traditional Christmas spot. But in the place of a new character and associating merchandise the brand has landed upon an issue which is often neglected in the festive period.

The campaign, which is supported by a significant long term investment in associated charities, aims to recognise those children during a family-focused holiday who may feel more isolated, and encourages the public to make a difference in their lives.

In the place of the usual fairytale and magical Christmas storyline is a nonetheless uplifting tale of a man struggling to learn to skateboard. Picking up an assortment of injuries on the way, at the end of the spot we learn his endeavour has not been for himself; but instead for the foster girl who arrives with her own board.

Claire Pointon, Director of Customer at John Lewis, explained: “We are fortunate to have a truly unique platform in our Christmas ad, which sparks a national conversation. As a purpose-led brand, making a genuine difference in our communities is important."

She continued: "At John Lewis we care deeply about families, and recognise that they come in many different forms. For our biggest moment of the year, we decided to focus on one kind of family that is often overlooked. We are also very aware that not all care experience outcomes are as positive as Ellie’s. The home Ellie enters is filled with kindness, and the foster father’s actions demonstrate that ultimately, it’s what you do that matters most.”

Building Happier Futures

The campaign builds on the retailers Building Happier Futures programme, which will support projects from organisations within the care sector that are working to build happier futures for care experienced people, helping to prepare them for employment as well as providing direct apprenticeship opportunities within the John Lewis Partnership. 

John Lewis will also directly support children in care and young people leaving care through the tough Christmas period with donations of decorations, food and gifts. Children in care and their caregivers will be invited into John Lewis for Santa’s Grotto experiences. The retailer will also transform the communal spaces of selected residential facilities run by Action for Children with electronics, furnishings and decorations. 

There will also be merchandise to support the campaign and customers can support by purchasing Lewis Bear products. A quarter (25%) of the sales from these items will go to  charity partners, Action for Children and Who Cares? (Scotland).

Products include; Lewis Bear, Lewis Bear pajamas, Lewis Bear tote bag and Lewis Bear Chocolate slims. Customers can also donate through an in store giving tree where customers can take a tag from the tree with a value between £5-£50 and scan it with their shop. 

Imran Hussain, Director of Policy & Campaigns, Action for Children, added: “At Action for Children we want every child to have a safe and happy childhood. Every year, we work with over 40,000 children and young people in, or with experience of, the care system, and we know the challenges and poor outcomes they may face. We believe this partnership will enable us to support and empower more children and young people as they make the transition from care into the adult world.”

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