All the John Lewis Christmas adverts ranked from worst to best

8 November 2023, 16:16

John Lewis Christmas ads
John Lewis Christmas ads. Picture: John Lewis & Partners

By Tom Eames

It's that time of year already. A certain department store unveils a new festive advert, and they're met with one of two reactions: Scrooge-like annoyance or heartwarming tears.

Either way, you can't escape these cute little promos each year, and this year marks its 17th one!

But what are the best ones so far? Here's our ranking of all of them, do you agree?

  1. 'From Me To You' (2008)

    John Lewis 2008 Christmas advert

    This was the first ad to use the successful method of tinky-tonky piano covers of a classic tune, this time taking on The Beatles' classic 'From Me To You'. If you were wondering why the vocals aren't top-notch, it's because they were recorded by unnamed John Lewis employees.

    It sees a montage of people of all ages next to their desired gift, with the tagline 'If you know the person, you'll find the present.' Quite a simple affair compared to later ads.

  2. 'Shadows' (2007)

    John Lewis Christmas Shadow Advert

    This was John Lewis' first Christmas advert in 10 years at the time, and they spent a whopping six million pounds on it.

    Similar to the famous Honda advert, it features presents being assembled to create an impressive shadow of a woman and a dog in the snow.

  3. 'Sweet Child of Mine' (2009)

    John Lewis Christmas Advert 2009

    This is arguably the first proper 'John Lewis Christmas advert' as we know it now. It has a piano cover of Guns N' Roses' belter 'Sweet Child o' Mine', recorded by Taken By Trees.

    Not much happens in the ad itself, but it features a sweet message of children excitedly opening gifts usually given to adults, with the tagline: 'Remember how Christmas used to feel'. By buying some hugely expensive items from John Lewis, of course!

  4. 'Give a Little Love' (2020)

    Waitrose and John Lewis 'Give A Little Love' Christmas advert

    John Lewis & Partners went a little bit different for 2020's offering, by getting singer Celeste to sing her original song 'A Little Love'.

    The cute ad saw different visual artists take on different animation styles for the scenes, which focuses on people spreading happiness throughout their town.

    While clever, it didn't have the emotional punch that we're usually used to.

  5. 'A Tribute to Givers' (2010)

    John Lewis 2010 Christmas Advert

    This was the first ad to spin-off a true chart hit, thanks to Ellie Goulding's cover of Elton John's 'Your Song'.

    We'd like to describe this as an advert sequel to Love Actually, as it features a compilation of all kinds of people dedicating their time to wrapping up gifts for their loved ones.

  6. 'An Unexpected Guest' (2021)

    John Lewis launch 2021 'Unexpected Guest' Christmas advert

    For 2021, it was Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder's song 'Together in Electric Dreams' which got the John Lewis treatment, from Lola Young.

    In it, a boy named Nathan befriends an alien girl who crashes to Earth called Skye. He soon teaches her the meaning of Christmas. Sweet enough, but not as memorable as other years.

  7. 'Moz the Monster' (2017)

    John Lewis Christmas Ad 2017 - 'Moz The Monster'

    The 2017 advert felt a tad underwhelming at the time, featuring a young kid and his imaginary monster buddy Moz.

    Featuring Elbow's sweet cover of The Beatles' 'Golden Slumbers', it wasn't quite clear what the message of the advert was and Moz himself wasn't the greatest festive mascot of all time. But still... look at that face.

  8. 'Buster the Boxer' (2016)

    John Lewis Christmas Advert

    This effort removed the tearjerker element from previous years, so some might say that was a welcome change.

    But who doesn't love a hedgehog, a badger, two foxes and a squirrel playing on a trampoline? It featured electronic band Vaults cover the Randy Crawford classic 'One Day I'll Fly Away'.

  9. 'Man on the Moon' (2015)

    John Lewis 2015 Christmas Advert

    Then-largely unknown Norwegian singer Aurora sang a piano cover of Oasis' 'Half the World Away' for this ad, which cost around £7 million to make. And that didn't include going to the actual moon.

    The ad sees a young girl trying to contact an old man living alone on the moon (for some reason), and managing to send him a telescope via a balloon. It's a tad creepy if you think about what's going on too long, but otherwise, it's very sweet.

  10. 'The Beginner' (2022)

    John Lewis release 'The Beginner' Christmas advert for 2022

    I doubt we'd ever expect Blink-182 to have had the John Lewis treatment, but here we go.

    Postmodern Jukebox's cover of 'All the Small Things' soundtracked this tearjerker, as a man attempts to learn how to skateboard in order to make his family's new foster child feel at home at Christmas time.

  11. 'Excitable Edgar' (2019)

    Christmas 2019 Advert: John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners

    For 2019, super cute Edgar is the star, but he can't help but accidentally ruin Christmas due to his fire-breathing ways.

    It might not have made us cry, but it's still a great ad, soundtracked by Dan Smith's cover of REO Speedwagon's 'Can't Fight This Feeling'.

  12. 'The Journey' (2012)

    John Lewis 2012 Advert

    Gabrielle Aplin performed a stripped back cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'The Power of Love', and it topped the singles chart.

    Somehow, this snowman traversed across fields, rivers, mountains and more to reach his beloved, and all without the use of a smartphone.

  13. 'The Bear and the Hare' (2013)

    John Lewis Christmas Advert 2013 - The Bear & The Hare

    Some said that this ad was a ripoff of children's book The Bear Stays Up for Christmas, but it was a truly popular and moving ad that year.

    Lily Allen had a comeback with the ad, covering Keane's 'Somewhere Only We Know', and we all love cute cartoon animals. It reminded us of The Animals of Farthing Wood, which is never a bad thing.

  14. 'The Long Wait' (2011)

    John Lewis 2011 Christmas Ad

    This was the first time which arguably made John Lewis Christmas ads 'a thing'. It featured a cover of The Smiths' 'Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want' by Slow Moving Millie, and it started the 'cute' trend that they have kept up ever since.

    In it, a little boy can't wait for Christmas Day, but the twist is that it's not because he wants to open his presents, but to give his parents a gift. Aww. Unbelievable, but aww.

  15. 'The Boy and the Piano' (2018)

    The John Lewis Christmas advert for 2018, starring Elton John

    We at Smooth were obviously going to love last year's effort: showing Sir Elton John throughout the years, tracing back all his success to when he was gifted a piano from his grandmother as a boy.

    We couldn't help but well up at witnessing the passage of time, all while Sir Elton's iconic 'Your Song' played on.

  16. 'Monty the Penguin' (2014)

    John Lewis Christmas Advert - Monty The Penguin

    This was the year in which John Lewis upped the ante by making a mascot that they could also sell in stores, and it worked. Say hello to Monty.

    Tom Odell performed a cover of The Beatles' 'Real Love', as we all held back the tears when watching the cute kid and his penguin 'pal'.