John Lewis, one of the UK's top retail brands, is known for their groundbreaking and innovative Christmas campaigns that are one of the highlights of the UK festive season. This year they revealed a tale of love and friendship between a little boy called Sam and his best friend, Monty the Penguin. They successfully extended the campaign to a bespoke 360-degree virtual reality experience for their customers in stores across the country, becoming the first UK brand to use Google Cardboard.


  • To create an innovative multi-channel campaign whilst building on the emotion and brand linkage established through past campaigns.
  • Drive frequency within existing customers and acquire new customers.
  • Deliver an integral amplification plan for all owned and earned channels.


  • Partnered with Google to create an immersive in store experience using Google Cardboard.
  • Promoted YouTube content through owned social media channels with paid support including TrueView, +Post ads and Admob media formats.


  • Over 22 million total views on YouTube, making it John Lewis’ most popular YouTube video to date.
  • John Lewis digital ads delivered 55 million impressions across TrueView, Admob and +Posts media formats
  • 5.5% increase in total sales vs Christmas 2013.
April 2015


John Lewis' latest Christmas campaign follows the story of a young boy named Sam and his friend Monty the Penguin, the advert reaches its emotional climax with Sam giving Monty a thoughtful gift on Christmas day. The video was launched across social media first before it debuted on TV. This offered their core followers and fans the chance to watch, enjoy and share the advert widely even before it appeared on TV. Online media support was also launched at this time, including YouTube TrueView and +Post ads, making sure the video was discoverable on YouTube while also pushing it out across the web through the Google Display Network. This strategy of owned and paid channel promotion built up so much momentum that the video surpassed their 2013 Christmas campaign's view count of 12 million views on YouTube in just three days. Monty the Penguin would go on to amass over 22 millions views, almost double their previous best, "Bear and the Hare" video, gained. The advert would also be crowned the second most popular UK advert of 2014 in YouTube's official Ads Leaderboard.

It was important to make sure the activity engaged audiences across all John Lewis' touchpoints, especially in-store. Using the inexpensive virtual reality viewer, Google Cardboard, in-store shoppers were able to explore "Monty's Christmas". James Parnum, OMD Account Director for John Lewis, added "Apart from the relative low cost we loved Google Cardboard because of its childlike playfulness. Kids often create things out of cardboard, draw on them, arts & crafts etc. so having something more basic and humble appealed to us". Monty's Christmas is a 360-degree interactive story narrated by Dermot O'Leary, a British TV presenter, and offered visitors to John Lewis stores the chance to step into Monty's world. The Google Cardboard based experience helped to extend the opportunity consumers had to engage in the world of Sam and Monty. The John Lewis branded Google Cardboard units were located in special "Monty's Den" themed areas in all 41 John Lewis stores. Having the virtual reality content tethered to John Lewis stored offered an extra incentive for families to shop there in the build up to Christmas. Parents and children alike could escape the sometimes hectic Christmas shopping rush by immersing themselves in Monty's Christmas. The experience was replicated online as well as in Android and iOS apps for additional scale.

With the Christmas 2014 John Lewis campaign performing so well vs the previous years, both in terms of creative and ultimately retail success the challenge is to raise the bar again for Christmas 2015.