Penguins by John Lewis and Copycats by David Jones

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Let It Snow blasting out of the stereo; carolers sashaying from house to house; snowmen playing sentinel in the town square; turkey, pork and apple sauce: yes, it’s UnderCurrent stereotypical view of  Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere!

And a new tradition has been forged over the past few years, joining these bastions of cold climate holidaymaking: the John Lewis TVC. Although department stores always take their Christmastime advertising seriously — it’s such an important sales time for broad retail, after all — John Lewis has quickly gained a reputation for especially good ads to promote its 45 outlets in the United Kingdom.

The current template was forged in 2011 when John Lewis released this outstanding ad to the tune of The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want. The idea is to match a twisting narrative, lovingly flavoured with a happy dose of saccharine, with a modern cover of a popular song.

One year later, in 2012, John Lewis debuted The Journey, which, while not as brilliant as the previous year’s effort, still contained some brilliant visuals and a stirring cover of The Power Of Love by Gabrielle Aplin.

In 2013, John Lewis really raised its game, bringing on Lily Allen to sing Somewhere Only We Know over the top of a lovely parable called The Bear and the Hare. So popular was this ad, Allen’s cover spent three weeks at #1 on the UK singles chart.

And now it is time for John Lewis’ latest Christmas creation. In keeping with modern times, the TVC is known by a hashtag: #MontyThePenguin

The song accompanying this ad is Tom Odell’s cover of The Beatles’ Real Love, which debuted on the UK charts this week at #21.

Having experienced these John Lewis ads it’s not hard to divine the inspiration for David Jones’ 2014 Christmas ad, titled The Things We Do For Love:

UnderCurrent opines that if you can’t beat the best you might as well just steal their idea…

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