Department store business John Lewis and grocery stablemate Waitrose have launched “a Christmas ad like no other in a year like no other”.

The seasonal campaign, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, is inspired by “spontaneous acts of kindness” that have been characteristic of the period and will raise cash for good causes FareShare and Home-Start.

The main Christmas advert, using the strapline ‘Give a little love’, features nine vignettes using techniques running from animation and claymation to CGI. For the first time the music, by soul singer Celeste, was specially commissioned for the ad.

John Lewis Partnership aims to raise £4m for the two charities and a further £1m will be donated by branches to local charities helping people in need. 

All profits generated from products featured in the ad will be donated to the two main charities. Downloads of the song will be rewarded with a 10p donation from Celeste and record label Polydor.

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John Lewis Partnership customer experience director Peter Cross told Retail Week the ad mirrored changes at the retailer led by chair Dame Sharon White, including a renewed sense of purpose.

He said: “In a year like no other, we had to have an ad like no other. We had to be a bit selfless – it couldn’t be about John Lewis and Waitrose, it had to be about the country and society.”

Waitrose executive director James Bailey said: “The pandemic has highlighted the growing inequalities across the country, with those who are already most vulnerable disproportionately impacted.

“We did consider whether it was right to produce an ad this year at all. However, FareShare and Home-Start told us how much of a difference this campaign could make, both on a financial level and in raising awareness of the incredibly important work they do with families across the UK.”

John Lewis executive director Pippa Wicks said: “We were humbled by the kindness shown by the British public during the pandemic. We want this campaign to be uplifting and to inspire everyone to give some kindness in their own way this Christmas, especially to those who need it most.”

The ad was created by agency Adam&eveDDB and will air on TV for the first time during The Voice on ITV on Saturday night.