As this year’s eagerly-anticipated festive season approaches, Retail Week takes a look at the Christmas campaigns of John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Boots and Sports Direct.

John Lewis

John Lewis’ festive advert this year tells the story of a young boy, Nathan, who befriends space traveller Skye, whose shuttle has crash-landed near his home. The advert focuses on Nathan teaching Skye about Christmas traditions, from festive lights to jumpers and mince pies. 

The advert was created in partnership with advertising firm Adam & Eve, and will debut on television on ITV during The Pride of Britain awards.


John Lewis will sell a Christmas jumper similar to the one featured in the advert across its men’s, women’s and children’s ranges in the run-up to Christmas, and will have replicas of Skye’s spaceship in 11 of its flagships for shoppers to take a picture alongside until Christmas.

NEW golden quarter logo black (Nov 2021)

Products featured in the home settings in the advert will be available to purchase in John Lewis’ stores.

The advert will also be accompanied by two Snapchat lenses, including one that allows shoppers to project an AR version of Skye’s spaceship onto their surroundings.

John Lewis’ customer director Claire Pointon said John Lewis’ advert was inspired by shopper feedback saying they wanted joy and escapism in Christmas advertising this year, as well as John Lewis’ strategic focus on driving its homewares offering. 

Unlike the two previous years, John Lewis and Waitrose will have separate Christmas advertising campaigns this year, with Waitrose’s festive advert set to air later this year.

“There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time and enjoying your favourite festive moments with loved ones,” Pointon said. “After the last 18 months, we wanted our advert to really celebrate this as we look forward to a brighter future. We know our customers are excited for this festive season more than ever, as they reconnect with family and friends. Through the story of Skye and Nathan we celebrate friendship and are reminded of the joy of experiencing Christmas for the first time.”


Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer has unveiled twin food and clothing and home Christmas adverts, with a focus on emphasising its “Anything but Ordinary” own-brand offerings. 

M&S is looking to tap into customers’ desire to celebrate a really big Christmas this year, after Covid-19 restrictions effectively cancelled the event last year for millions of Britons.


In what will be a first for M&S, its iconic Percy Pig has been given a voice by actor Tom Holland. In his nearly 30-year life span, the Percy Pig brand has grown to an over £50m business domestically and internationally.

The food spots feature Holland’s Percy Pig, and a Christmas fairy played by Dawn French, exploring the M&S Stratford Foodhall in the dead of night “discovering all the magic M&S Food has to offer this Christmas”.

The campaign launches today (November 4) with a 60-second advert, following a social media campaign teasing Holland’s voice as Percy with the #whoispercypig campaign. M&S said the pre-campaign will be seen by 9 million people across the UK. 

M&S director of marketing for food Sharry Cramond said: “The M&S Christmas Food range this year is better than ever, and who better to tell customers about our delicious Christmas food range than the national treasure and much-loved M&S icon himself, Percy Pig. Of course, he couldn’t have just any voice, and having Tom Holland give Percy Pig his first words is about as exciting as it gets. Added to that the voice of the one and only Dawn French as the Christmas fairy – it’s the stuff of Christmas dreams.”


While M&S’s food adverts will focus heavily on Percy Pig, its clothing and homewares ads will focus on pushing its ‘Anything but Ordinary’ brand platform the retailer launched this autumn

The marketing is designed to drive home the message that “M&S’ style, quality and value products… can help customers make the magical season anything but ordinary”. 

To drive the campaign, M&S today launched a brand activation at Waterloo station, as well as print cover wraps of national newspapers and will be taking over “three large scale sites” in London, Edinburgh and Manchester “bringing to life some of the theatrical magic with hand-painted murals”. 

Within the TV adverts and Video on Demand adverts, M&S will also be the first UK retailer to use ‘Flowcode’ - a QR code worked into the ads that take customers to its website. 

Clothing and home director Anna Braithwaite said: “Our Clothing & Home products help make the season anything but ordinary – from fun family PJs for cosy nights in, to the chic velvet suit for the much-anticipated party season, to the best beautiful decorations for the Christmas tree. Our campaign, which we’ll be sharing across all customer channels, celebrates the joy of the season and showcases the one-stop shop M&S is for everything you need to make it special.”




Boots’ Christmas campaign, Bags of Joy, aims to create a focus on the traditional Christmas experience, highlighting the retailer’s role as a popular choice for gifts.

Starring Doctor Who actress Jenna Coleman as Joy and directed by Oscar award-winner Tom Hooper, the campaign highlights Joy’s adventures with a magical bag that provides family and friends with the ideal presents. 

The advert intends to highlight the return to a more normal festive period following long periods spent apart during lockdown.

This year’s campaign includes a partnership with Sky Media. Shoppable TV advertisements will contain QR codes, which, when scanned by consumers, will drive them to the Boots website. 

Chief marketing officer Pete Markey said: “This year, we wanted to celebrate the heart-warming memories that families will once again be able to make and cherish. To reach our customers wherever they may be, we have a full marketing plan to ensure they can experience that Christmas magic across every touchpoint. Whether they are scrolling for festive inspiration on Instagram, flicking through a magazine or relaxing in front of the television, we want people to feel joy at every opportunity.”


Sports Direct


Sports Direct has unveiled its 2021 advert, urging sports enthusiasts to ‘Go All Out’ this festive season.

The campaign calls for consumers to get off the sofa this Christmas. Set on a suburban street, the campaign shows footballers Jordan Pickford and Jack Grealish, Olympian Jessica Ennis-Hill,  golfer Andrew Johnston and tennis player and US Open champion Emma Raducanu showcasing their sporting prowess in a high-octane snowball fight. It also features grime artist Big Narstie.

The sportswear retailer has also partnered with TikTok. Users of the app can participate in a virtual contest to test their heading skills to decide whether they make it on Big Narstie’s Naughty List.

Chief marketing officer Beckie Stanion explained: “After the challenges the nation has faced over the past year, we’re excited to encourage everyone to Go All Out this Christmas - with the help of some of the country’s biggest sporting legends. 

“From your TV screens to your smartphones, Go All Out is a truly integrated campaign that shows up consistently, and natively, across multiple channels.”




With the tagline “Christmas to the Maxx”, TK Maxx’s Christmas advert encourages everyone to go big this Christmas after the past year.

The ad features a young boy called Laurie, who’s new early Christmas present - a pair of shiny silver boots - give him the confidence to perform at a Christmas concert.

The theme song is a special version of Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’. 

The TV advert will be supported with print, digital, social and PR, as well as partnership with TikTok, where people are invited to participate in the #TKMaxxTalentShow.

The advert was created by advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy London for the sixth year running.

TKMaxx group director Deborah Dolce said:  “We want to celebrate what we hope will be a Christmas of joyful optimism - with community, family and fun at its heart. This charming ad is an upbeat, colourful and super-shiny reminder that when you find the right gift for someone, and it’s special to them, the impact and happiness you might create knows no bounds.”

“We’ll be receiving fresh deliveries right up to Christmas Eve and our amazing selection of unique gifts at really affordable prices means everyone can take Christmas to the Maxx this year.”