John Lewis & Partners ad recounts Christmas tale of Venus flytrap

—The spot marks Saatchi & Saatchi London’s first festive campaign for the brand after winning the account in May—

By Imogen Watson

John Lewis & Partners has returned to a character-led narrative in its latest Christmas spot, with a heartwarming tale about Snapper, a goofy Venus flytrap.

“Let your traditions grow” is Saatchi & Saatchi London’s first Christmas campaign for the brand since it took over from Adam & Eve/DDB earlier this year, and it explores the joy of enduring and changing traditions.

In a bid to land the perfect Christmas tone, the British department store set up The Festive Traditions Tracker, which delved into the ways the nation celebrates Christmas and used it as the basis for the campaign.

As a result of the findings of the research, John Lewis and Saatchi & Saatchi emphasized the unusual and unexpected over conventional perfection in the film, which is entitled “Snapper: The perfect tree.”

Directed by Megaforce through RiffRaff, the spot opens at a jumble sale as a little boy called Teddy discovers a mystical, old-fashioned box. “Grow your own perfect Christmas tree,” the packaging reads, with the addition: “Fast growing.” “Gran can I have this,” he begs.

Taking it home, Teddy eagerly plants the seed and continues to tend to it as it grows (and grows) into a goofy and mischievous Venus flytrap. The pair soon become good friends and get up to all sorts of nonsense.

Not your typical Christmas fir, Snapper artfully puts his various heads together to appear like a Christmas tree.

The fast-growing Venus flytrap gets too big for the house and Teddy’s family relocate him outside to replace him with a better-behaved Christmas tree.

Upset that his pal has been turfed, Teddy grabs a present from under the Christmas tree and runs outside. Realizing Snapper is perfect in his own way, Teddy’s family follows his lead.

But Snapper interrupts the tender moment when he suddenly swallows a present whole. He spits it out into the boy’s hands and bursts wrapping paper confetti into the sky.

Franki Goodwin, chief creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi, said: “Taking on the John Lewis Christmas ad—no pressure, right? It has been quite the six months.

“But, honestly, having built a fully integrated campaign, and worked with the icons that are Megaforce and Bocelli to make a film that retains what is quintessential about a John Lewis Christmas ad, but evolves it into something perhaps a bit unexpected, wilder and funnier.

“I really do appreciate that pressure is a privilege—and making this has been a huge one.”

The campaign is backed by an original score sung by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. He performs Festa, which means “celebration” in English. The song was written and produced by the Italian electropop duo Le Feste Antonacci, especially for the campaign.

At Saatchi & Saatchi London, Alex Kosterman and Avani Maan created the ad. The VFX was by Electric Theatre Collective.

John Lewis claims the Christmas campaign is its most commercial yet. Beyond the hero ad, there are seven, 10-second product-led films showcasing gifts, such as Nespresso coffee machines and Jo Malone fragrances.

This year, the brand is also offering its widest-ever range of merchandise inspired by the Christmas campaign. The Snapper collection includes a plush plant, plush bauble, kids’ pyjamas and real Venus flytrap plants.

Charlotte Lock, customer director for John Lewis, said: “We are a nation that loves the traditions of Christmas—from classic traditions like pantos and putting up the tree, to evolving new ones like crafting our own presents and Zoom get-togethers. Many of us have our own unique festive traditions, and that makes them even more special.”

The Christmas campaign includes a partnership with Kew Gardens. Snapper will appear as part of its light trail. It marks the first time Kew has integrated a brand partner into its Christmas display.

It also features a special AR filter created with Meta, allowing users to introduce Snapper into their homes virtually.

Sarah Jenkins, managing director, Saatchi & Saatchi London, said: “It’s particularly magical to be launching a campaign that celebrates all of the traditions—both eternal and evolving—that make Christmas so special to the nation.

“The race to be the number one Christmas ad brings extra festive spice and is such a brilliant embodiment of the skills and smarts of the UK’s incredible creative industries. We’re raising a glass to all.”

The campaign also includes a host of out-of-home ads, press and John Lewis window displays, which will bring Snapper to life in-store, alongside its Christmas range of products.

Manning Gottlieb OMD handled the media planning and buying.

The last time the brand’s Christmas ad was mascot-led was 2019, with “Excitable Edgar”, a dragon whose fire caused problems—until it didn’t.

In 2022, John Lewis used its Christmas ad to help young people in the care system enter employment, led by “The beginner” featuring a foster dad learning to skateboard. In 2021 “Unexpected guest” told the tale of an unlikely friendship between a young boy called Nathan and space traveller Skye.

In the height of Covid (2020), John Lewis partnered with Waitrose & Partners for “Give a little love”, which encouraged the nation to spread kindness through a series of vignettes.

Saatchi & Saatchi’s Christmas ad for Waitrose launched last week, and shows a raucous festive house party.

This article originally appeared at Campaign UK.