Sir Elton John is the star of this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert with his performance of Your Song the soundtrack to a festive-tinged retrospective of his life and career.
Viewers then follow the singer through key moments in his life, with scenes of him on stadium tours, travelling on a private jet, recording Your Song, playing the piano in a local pub and performing in a school recital.
The advert ends with a four-year-old Elton running down the stairs on Christmas morning and unwrapping his grandmother’s gift of her piano – a scene “inspired by real events” but involving “some creativity”, the department store said.
With the exception of the present-day opening scene featuring Sir Elton himself, actors take on the role of him at various stages of his life, while the images of the stadium based on a concert in Portland in the US were entirely recreated with computer-generated imagery.
It is the second of the retailer’s Christmas ads to feature Your Song after singer Ellie Goulding recorded a cover for the 2010 campaign.
Sir Elton said: “The John Lewis Christmas campaign has so many warm memories for me and my family.“It’s been a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing my grandmother’s piano marks the moment when music came into my life.
“The ad is absolutely fantastic and I’ve truly loved every minute of being a part of it.”
John Lewis customer director Craig Inglis said: “The ad tells the story of why Elton’s piano was more than just a gift and we hope to remind customers of that special moment when they’ve given a gift at Christmas time that they know will be treasured forever.”
John Lewis addressed speculation about the cost of this year’s ad, describing reports that it had paid Sir Elton £5 million as “wildly inaccurate”.
It added that Sir Elton had requested that a portion of his fee be donated to the Elton John Charitable Trust when he was first approached to be involved.
The retailer, which reported a 98.8% profits crash for the first half of the year in September, said the ad was a “crucial part” of its overall marketing campaign and “one of the most effective marketing campaigns in the industry, delivering an excellent return on investment”.
The commercial, voiced by actress Emma Thompson and originally produced by Greenpeace, features a cartoon orangutan and highlights the plight of the rainforest.
Since Iceland posted the “banned” video online it has since received thousands of shares on social media, which is not regulated in the same way.
Iceland said it had spent £500,000 on putting its campaign together and insisted it had booked a number of prime-time TV slots with the full intention of having it cleared to air over Christmas.
Enlisting the director of blockbuster film The Greatest Showman, Michael Gracey, the ad begins with a group of school children coming together backstage for a Christmas show before stunning the audience with a rendition of the New Radicals’ 1990s classic You Get What You Give.
Head of Broadcast Marketing at Sainsbury’s, Laura Boothby said: “The school show is a flagship Christmas moment for many: the evenings spent frantically learning lines, the inventive costumes – the whole family truly plays a part.
"This made it the perfect setting to bring our Christmas message to life – watching little ones give all they’ve got, for their loved ones watching on.”
Other grocery retailers that have so far revealed their 2018 Christmas ads include Lidl, Asda, Aldi and Tesco.