John Lewis Christmas advert: an alien features but Sheffield is alienated

A young alien is the star of this year's John Lewis festive campaign but the advert has left a Sheffield politician feeling alienated.

By Rob Hollingworth
Thursday, 4th November 2021, 3:13 pm

The retailer is attempting to tap in to customer enthusiasm for a traditional Christmas season, but after closing the Barkers Pool store in June the ad has left some unimpressed.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, the leader of the city’s Liberal Democrats, said: "John Lewis may want to attract aliens to the store but it turned its back on Sheffield.

"Residents who don’t have access to a car won’t be able to experience what they are offering unless they can get to Leeds or Manchester. It is ironic that alien shoppers are welcome, but Sheffield wasn’t.”

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The John Lewis Store, Sheffield

Titled Unexpected Guest, the two-minute ad stars space traveller Skye crash-landing at the height of festivities in the woods near the home of 14-year-old Nathan, who introduces her to the traditions of eating mince pies, decorating the tree and, to her slight confusion, wearing novelty jumpers.

The soundtrack is provided by 20-year-old London singer and songwriter Lola Young, who performs a cover of Together In Electric Dreams, originally released by Phil Oakey, of Sheffield band The Human League, and Giorgio Moroder in 1984.

The release of the ad is around a fortnight earlier than usual and comes as the retailer revealed Christmas-related searches on its website are up 50% on this time last year.

The ad was created with agency adam&eveDDB, with John Lewis refusing to reveal a budget but saying it was in line with previous years' spending.

Coun Shaffaq Mohammed

John Lewis customer director Claire Pointon said: "There is nothing more magical than discovering the joy of Christmas for the first time and enjoying your favourite festive moments with loved ones.

"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."

It comes as a global sports brand has drawn up multi-million pound plans for a ‘home of football’ in Sheffield’s John Lewis building – including pitches on the roof.

The household name wants to create Sheffield Rules, The Star revealed, with a museum celebrating the city’s role in the origins of the game, have-a-go football experiences with celebrities, community pitches on the roof and bars and restaurants on the ground floor opening on to Barker’s Pool.

Coun Mohammed said: “I’ve seen lots of grand plans for grand things, the issue is how serious is this?

"We welcome investment because the site is sitting empty and costs money to keep secure. If something can be done which adds value I wouldn’t have a problem.

"But I’ve been on the council for 15 years and seen lots of fantastic drawings but no action.

"Instead of talking about John Lewis aliens, let’s have something out of this world for Sheffield.”