The annual John Lewis Christmas ad has become as much a part of a UK Christmas as Mince Pies, Santa Claus and woolly jumpers. This year, the retailer opted to preview its £1m ad on digital channels YouTube and Twitter first, ahead of its TV debut over the weekend.
The advert follows the unlikely friendship between boy and penguin Monty, who is brought to life through the power of imagination. The ad is supported by a number of in-store promotions, including an augmented reality booth that animates real toys via digital trickery.
The 60-second film was made by Adam&Eve/DDB, the agency that has created most of the department store’s commercials.
The advert will be broadcast for the first time on Friday evening during the first advert break of Channel 4’s Gogglebox.
Ahead of this, the ad was posted on YouTube at 8am on November 6th 2014, after John Lewis has unveiled the ad via a Twitter account with the #montythepenguin hashtag.
— John Lewis (@johnlewisretail) November 6, 2014
Despite rumours of this year being ‘lower key’ than years gone by, there were more tweets about this advert in the first three hours of its reveal than in the first 24 hours of Hare of and the Bear.
Communications agency Hotwire used its insights and analytics tool to monitor the social buzz over the first 3 hours:
• 49,562 tweets about the John Lewis Monty the Penguin advert
• #montythepenguin was number 1 UK trend within 90 minutes of advert release
• Sentiment – 2.3% Negative, 97.7% positive/neutral
o The penguin: everyone wants their own Monty.
o Tom Odell: His cover of Real Love us also proving very popular
o A number of people on Twitter were pointing out that the young boy had basically just got his penguin a mail order bride.
So John Lewis sells mail order penguin brides?
— Ric Thomas (@ricthomas) November 6, 2014
Augmented reality twist brings kids toys to life
From Friday, Monty’s Magical Toy Machine in John Lewis’ Oxford Street store will open its doors for the public to scan children’s toys (including Monty himself), rendering them in 3D and allowing people to interact with them on screen as a moving 3D image.
John Lewis teamed up with Microsoft Advertising to create the circular wrapped booth on the store’s third floor, which is powered by an X1 custom built computer running Windows 8.1.
The chosen toy is suspended in the air by clip wires and photographed 17 times by three digital SLR cameras using a process called photogrammetry, which sees them wheel around the toy to capture every angle, taking around 90 seconds.
The images are then processed by the computer and relayed to three 75-inch screens equipped with Kinect 2 sensors where children can interact with the 3D rendering of their toy: watching it slowly wake up, wave, and even start dancing.
Craig Inglis, director of marketing at John Lewis commented: “Each year we look for new ways to amplify our Christmas campaign, and creating Monty’s Magical Toy Machine with Microsoft is one of our most exciting ideas yet. I hope this unique experience will bring the magic of Christmas to life for our Oxford Street customers, both young and old alike.”
John Lewis had challenged Microsoft’s creative technologists to do more than just amplify Christmas advertising on Microsoft properties and truly “add to the magic” of the festive period.
Monty and Mabel were created used sophisticated CGI to make them appear as close to real life Adélie penguins as possible.