It’s that time of year many have been waiting for. The anticipation has been building since the first signs of winter really begun emerging last month. It’s the release of the John Lewis Christmas advertising campaign.

The department store’s Christmas campaigns are more like festive short stories and as such their launch have always been seen as a real event.

Ever since Craig Inglis was promoted to director of marketing in 2010 the department store group has upped its advertising game, starting that year with its “She’s always a woman” campaign - one woman’s life story from a baby to her retirement years.  The following year John Lewis began its marketing assault on Christmas with the “The long wait”, featuring a boy anxiously waiting until he could give his parents their Christmas present.  Last year was the epic and equally heart-warming snowman campaign and this year John Lewis is tugging at consumer’s heart strings once more.

The ad tells the story of a forlorn bear that due to hibernating over winter misses out on Christmas. A happy ending arrives as his friend the hare surprises him with an unexpected gift, echoing the strapline, “Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget”.

Created by advertising agency Adam&Eve/DDB, the ad packs enough emotional punch and warm-hearted Christmas joy that sentimental viewers will be reaching for their hankies and perhaps even  shouting about the ad on social media. However, the more cynical viewers may find the story simply too saccharine.

The cartoon aspect of the ad should also appeal to adults as well as children. The campaign is bound to leave many an older viewer nostalgic for the Christmas they had as a child, as the animation harks back to classic Bambi-era Disney rather than the current Pixar style popular today.

John Lewis has again used a folky cover of a popular song as the ad’s soundtrack, with Lilly Allen covering Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’. The cover versions featured in John Lewis’ Christmas ads have often gone on to be big hits, while this year’s campaign is also given extra legs by offering shoppers in 11 of its stores a photo opportunity with the bear and the hare.

For those skeptical about the lack of product in the ad, John Lewis is sure to continue using other media channels such as print and outdoor to push product, as its TV Christmas ads are now exclusively about the brand.

As such, John Lewis has continued its Christmas tradition of successfully aligning its brand with the season of giving through a creative and emotionally engaging ad that should, like Allen’s cover, be a hit with shoppers over the festive season.