The ad is more joyful than previous campaigns. Craig Inglis, the customer director at John Lewis, said: "2016 has certainly been quite a year, so we hope our advert will make people smile. It really embraces a sense of fun and magic, reminding everyone what it feels to give the perfect gift at Christmas."
The film is set to a cover of the song One Day I’ll Fly Away, recorded by British band Vaults.
"Buster the Boxer" was created by Adam & Eve/DDB with media planning and buying through Manning Gottlieb OMD.
It was directed by Dougal Wilson, through Blink, who has directed three of the retailer’s previous Christmas ads, including 2011’s "The long wait", 2012’s "The journey" and 2014’s "Monty’s Christmas".
The film will be broadcast on ITV at 9.15pm. The ad will also feature on the dashboard for Sky customers – the first time this space has been offered to a commercial partner. The brand will release a "making of the ad" film and bespoke content about British wildiife, presented by Wildfire TV presenter Patrick Aryee, which will be exclusively available to Sky’s 12 million customers via the On Demand homepage and Sky Go.
The campaign includes an immersive virtual reality experience using Oculus Rift VR at the retailer’s flagship London store, a 360-degree film experience on JL.com and YouTube, and a bespoke Snapchat lens to transform users into Buster. Throughout December, customers visiting any of John Lewis’ 48 shops will be able to apply a Snapchat filter to their pictures taken while in store.
Until Sunday 13 November, people will be able to use bespoke Twitter stickers so they can personalise their own photos with Buster and his friends.
John Lewis has also created a series of merchandise around the film, including stuffed toys of Buster, the foxes, badger and hedgehog. It will also sell mugs and pyjamas featuring Buster. Some of the money raised from selling these items will be donated to The Wildlife Trusts.
The charity's chief executive Stephanie Hilborne said: "The Wildlife Trusts believe that everyone should have the opportunity to experience the joy of wildlife and wild places in their daily lives. So John Lewis putting some of our most beautiful British wild animals at the centre of their Christmas advert and making The Wildlife Trusts their charity of choice this Christmas is great news. With this support we will be able to inspire thousands more children about the wonders of the natural world."
(This article first appeared on CampaignLive.co.uk)