John Lewis Christmas advert: A Venus fly trap and Andrea Bocelli star in festive tale

This year's John Lewis advert has been released, as supermarkets spend record amounts to tempt shoppers back to the High Street, as Faye Barker reports

A giant Venus flytrap and Andrea Bocelli are perhaps not two traditional hallmarks of Christmas, but they, and a kind-hearted plant loving boy, are the stars of this year's John Lewis Christmas advert.

The department store's often hotly anticipated festive campaign, which was released on Thursday, depicts an upbeat tale of a young boy whose grow-your-own Christmas tree turns out to be a mischievous Venus flytrap.

Entitled, ‘Snapper, The Perfect Tree’, it follows the boy as he lovingly nurtures the plant from a seed bought at a local market, in the belief he is cultivating a perfect Christmas tree.

The plant rapidly grows to a Little Shop of Horrors - but less murderous - size, all to the tune of an original song called ‘Festa’, which means celebration, composed by Italian electro-pop duo Le Feste Antonacci and performed by Andrea Bocelli.

A still from the John Lewis 2023 Christmas ad titled ‘Snapper, The Perfect Tree’ Credit: John Lewis/PA

It becomes an equally big personality who wants to join in all the fun of Christmas, before the tear-jerking moment when he is cast out into the cold to make way for a traditional tree.

However, the boy is determined for Snapper to have a place in the celebrations, which soon sees him back in the fold, as the ad ends with the strapline ‘Let your traditions grow’.

The soundtrack will be released in longer form as a charity single, with a proportion of the proceeds going to the John Lewis Partnership’s Building Happier Futures charities, which help young people with experience of the care system and families in need.

Bocelli said: “I am delighted to take part in this wonderful and unique tradition of Christmas storytelling.

“It is very special for me given the great support this will bring to both the John Lewis and Andrea Bocelli foundations. Joy to all of your worlds this Christmas!”

John Lewis declined to reveal a budget for the campaign, which is its first with agency Saatchi and Saatchi, following a partnership with adam&eveDDB stretching back to 2009 that created ads including ‘Monty The Penguin’, ‘The Bear And The Hare’ and ‘Excitable Edgar’.

John Lewis customer director Charlotte Lock said: “The film celebrates themes of family and evolving traditions, and shows that a ‘perfect’ Christmas is finding joy together with loved ones, whatever your traditions.”

This is the first year John Lewis has worked with agency Saatchi and Saatchi Credit: John Lewis and Partners/PA

Sarah Jenkins, managing director at Saatchi & Saatchi, said it was an "extraordinary privilege" to work on the project

She added: "The race to be the number one Christmas ad brings extra festive spice and is such a brilliant embodiment of the skills and smarts of the UK’s incredible creative industries.

"We’re raising a glass to all.”

This year’s ad has a big range of accompanying merchandise, from an £18 plush plant to a £3 Christmas card with seeds and a £9.99 children’s story book.

Snapper will also feature on the Christmas at Kew light trail at the gardens this year.

From December, an AR filter will allow Meta users to bring Snapper into their own homes, while a digital advent calendar on the John Lewis app will see Snapper reward myJL members with exclusive rewards.

Want more entertainment news? Listen to our podcast, Unscripted...