Yes, John Lewis' Christmas Penguin Love Ad Is Its Best Yet -- Here's Why

If you’ve only just woken up and haven’t seen the new John Lewis Christmas ad yet, click here and watch it now.

It’s about a little boy who arranges a mail-order love match between two penguins. (And while the ad is PG rated, folks on Twitter have been quick to note that a form of prostitution does in fact exist among penguins.)

As far as we’re concerned, this year’s £7 million ($US11 million) effort from the UK department store — it’s a massive annual event in the country —   is the best yet.

Which is some achievement considering the calibre of its previous award-winning festive campaigns, like “For Gifts You Can’t Wait To Give,” “The Journey” and “The Bear and The Hare.” All John Lewis’s Xmas ads have a similar theme: A story about a lonely struggle to brighten the Christmas of just one or two other people, backed by a sad, lilting ballad. It sounds trite and mawkish, and it is. But the ads are executed with such care and wit that you’ll be choking back the tears at your desk if you watch them in the office.

The new one, “Monty The Penguin,” trumps them all. Here are 15 reasons why.

1. Not only does the TV ad feature an incredibly cute little boy, Sam, but he’s out cute-d by his penguin chum Monty. Just look at this waddle!

2. We love this part when Sam inconspicuously palms off his fish finger to an eager Monty.

3. And Sam’s “confused face.”

4. The big reveal is a genuine tear-jerker.

5. Even if people on Twitter did pick up some mild sexual connotations.

 6. To be fair, it look’s like Sam’s mum did too.

We enjoyed this fleeting moment of worry on mum’s face when wonders whether her child is about to do something deeply disturbing with his two stuffed penguin chums.

7. Even the music is lovely.

For the first time since 2009, John Lewis hasn’t chosen a female artist to sing a breathy indie cover version to soundtrack its ad. This year 23-year-old, cherub-faced, male British singer/songwriter Tom Odell takes the reins, covering the little-known John Lennon track from The Beatles 1995 Anthology “Real Love.” It’s not husky, it’s not excessively schmaltzy but hits the sentimental note at just the right parts of the storyline. Except it to fly up the UK Top 40 over the holiday season like an excited penguin.

8. John Lewis is capturing the zeitgeist by airing the ad on TV for the first time with Channel 4’s Gogglebox.

Usually John Lewis saves the TV premiere for the Saturday X Factor live show on ITV, but this year the reveal will happen during Friday night’s Gogglebox. For those not in the UK, Gogglebox is the most bizarre TV hit of recent years. Basically, the show’s producers have stuck a camera in a bunch of living rooms across the country to film people as they watch TV. On Friday the nation will see how the telly-watching semi-celebrities react to the John Lewis campaign. Expect tears.

9. The campaign continues in-store.

Like previous years, John Lewis is launching reams of merchandise and in-store displays to turn the buzz around the campaign into dollars in the till. But what makes the marketing even more interesting this year is that John Lewis has given consumers a whole host of reasons to visit its stores beyond just buying presents.

The department store has created “Monty’s Den” for kids to visit while their parents sweat over getting the relatives appropriate gifts. Kids are encouraged to bring their favourite toys in-store (any toy, not just ones they bought at John Lewis) and bring them “to life” using Microsoft “photogrammery” tech that creates a moving 3D image.

They can also have a play on “Monty’s Goggles” which use Google Cardboard to give kids a 360-degree tour of a virtual Sam and Monty world.

10.  Speaking of merch…

John Lewis has gone overboard this year. There’s a book telling the tale of Sam and Monty, an interactive ebook app, plush toys (which go all the way up to £95 for the big version) and this fetching Monty onesie (WHICH HAS ALREADY SOLD OUT!)

11. Monty’s on Twitter.

And check out who he follows (Plenty of Fish is in there too.)

12. John Lewis is also using Twitter to turn on the famous London Oxford Street Christmas lights.

The retailer has created an app for consumers to download, which will see the company “light up your cover photo and share the Christmas cheer with a tweet from you to all your friends” this Thursday evening. 

13. The campaign isn’t *all* about consumerism. 

John Lewis is promoting two charities as part of its push: WWF’s Adopt a Penguin scheme and the work it does to conserve penguins’ habitats and the department store is donating a portion of the proceeds of the sale of its book to children’s charity Barnado’s.

14. It’s only been live for a couple of hours and just look at the response.

John Lewis’ fans have fallen in love with it