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John Lewis Christmas advert 2018: A heartfelt tribute to Elton John

The ad is set to the classic hit ‘Your Song’

Harriet Hall,Olivia Petter
Thursday 15 November 2018 08:55 GMT
Elton John features in John Lewis Christmas advert for 2018

The wait is finally over and the Christmas season has officially begun. That’s right, the John Lewis Christmas advert has been released.

This year’s hotly anticipated campaign is an emotional tribute to none other than British musical icon Sir Elton John, confirming social media rumours that have circulated around the advert in recent weeks.

So successful is the John Lewis advert that Christmas TV has become as much about the packed schedule of dramas and film premieres as it is about the release of this particular campaign. And most supermarkets now compete in a game of one-upmanship, releasing increasingly emotional campaigns each year.

Following years of heartfelt short films set to covers of classic songs that have been known to bring tears to viewers’ eyes, this year the retail giant has departed from its fictionalised stories and ingénue singers, with a two-minute Christmas campaign film that tells the story of John’s career, set to his first major hit, “Your Song”.

Titled The Boy and the Piano, the advert opens in the present day with a shot of the musician sat at his piano playing the opening notes of “Your Song,” before going back in time to chart his meteoric rise to stardom. Eventually we are shown the origin of his talents: a piano gifted to him for Christmas by his mother and grandmother.

Sir Elton John in the opening shot of the John Lewis Christmas avdert (John Lewis)

Different actors play the singer throughout, with Freddie Henderson depicting the young Elton, Brandon Stein covering his teenage years, Oliver Marshall doing the Seventies, Simon Burbage covering the Eighties/Nineties years and John himself appearing for the present day scenes.

Each scene sees an array of opulent costumes, designed by Joanna Johnston to be identical replicas of John’s original outfits.

A pink mohawk and a sequin jacket: the advert celebrates the singer's iconic costumes (John Lewis)

While the entire song is played throughout the advert, it is pieced together using different recordings that John sung throughout his career, adding a subtle but noticeable change of mood with each scene transition.

Additionally, this is the first time that John Lewis has used a repeat song, with Ellie Goulding’s cover of "Your Song" having appeared in the brand’s 2010 Christmas campaign.

The advert imagines moments on Elton John's 1970s tour bus (John Lewis)

By using a celebrity as the focus of the advert, John Lewis has moved away from preceding campaigns, which have seen up and coming artists cover classic songs, with Gabrielle Aplin singing “The Power of Love” and Tom Odell singing "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want".

The advert comes just months before Elton John biopic, Rocket Man, comes to cinemas, and ahead of his 2019 farewell tour. Both dates seem more than a happy coincidence, but representatives from John Lewis and Partners insist that the timing of this was not planned in relation to their campaign.

Elton John singing "Your Song" (John Lewis)

John Lewis denies rumours that John was paid £5m to appear in the campaign and have kept the exact sum spent on the whole film under wraps. What they have said is that this year’s aligns with that of previous adverts, which have sat around the £7m mark.

Speaking about the advert, Elton John said: "It's been a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing my Grandmother's piano marks the moment when music came into my life. The ad is absolutely fantastic and I've truly loved every minute of being a part of it.”

An actor plays the young Elton John at a school recital (John Lewis)

In addition to the advert itself, John Lewis will be releasing a behind the scenes video, going through all the details of how the campaign was put together.

A fictionalised account of young Elton John opening his first-ever piano (John Lewis)

As with every John Lewis Christmas campaign, shoppers will be able to get the full experience – this year, by stepping into the actual sets used in the filming of the advert, in the flagship Oxford Street store in London. The 2,000 sq ft space will see shoppers explore the recording studio, the living room and the dressing room sets featured in the ad, even being able to try on the actual costumes from the short film.

Elton John reflects on his career in the John Lewis advert (John Lewis)

There will also be a number of musical light shows being projected from the shop’s windows every 30 minutes from 4pm on Thursday 15 November, to mark the advertisement’s launch date. These will fill the streets by playing Elton John’s Christmas classic track “Step Into Christmas".


The advert will make its TV debut on ITV1 at 9.15pm during Dark Heart.

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