Dougal Wilson John Lewis - Excitable Edgar

Dougal Wilson John Lewis - Excitable Edgar

/ AdAge Creativity

The much-anticipated John Lewis Christmas ad is here, and after last year's foray into celebrity with the Elton John-themed  "The Boy and the Piano" the retailer has reverted to the winning formula of cute kid, adorable CGI animal and director Dougal Wilson.

The heartwarming tale of "Excitable Edgar" stars a bouncy young dragon who lives in a fairy-tale land and is befriended by an adorable red-haired girl named Ava. The trouble is, when he's excited he can't control his fire-breathing and sets about almost ruining Christmas by melting snowmen and ponds and scorching a Christmas tree. The townspeople get angry with him, and he retreats to his lair until Ava comes up with a bright idea—he's the perfect one to light the Christmas pudding. 

The two-minute 30-second film by Adam&Eve/DDB is set to the REO Speedwagon track "Can’t Fight This Feeling," covered by Dan Smith of British alt-rock band Bastille. Post-production, and the creation of "Edgar," is by Untold. 

While it perhaps won't make you cry as much as "Monty the Penguin" did, it's a sweet addition to the John Lewis canon (with shades of "How to Train Your Dragon" perhaps and even the opposite story to "Frozen".) 

It's also the first joint Christmas ad for both the John Lewis and Waitrose brands (although the two brands came together last year in their "Bohemian Rhapsody" spot). According to the brand, the idea is to combine the themes combine the idea of "thoughtful gifting" (John Lewis) and "thoughtful hosting" (Waitrose).

Martin George, Partner and Customer Director, Waitrose & Partners, said: “The magic of friendship and making our loved ones feel special, are some of the most wonderful things about this time of year. The Christmas pudding in the final scene is not just the showpiece of a spectacular feast which brings all the villagers together. It’s a reminder that a thoughtful gesture - whether that’s a delicious meal or a special gift - can mean so much.”

The story of Edgar had been in the John Lewis stash of ideas for a while, but according to Adam&Eve CCO Richard Brim in a behind-the-scenes film, the combination of the two brands was what made it work this year. 

Kindness, caring for others and "being accepting of each other's differences" are also topical themes after a particularly divisive year for the U.K. One of the key words in the brief was "joy." As for the choice of director, John Lewis marketing director Becky Brock says they looked at several treatments, but "Dougal is such a great storyteller and brought all the little touches that you see in the film." And the real-life inspiration for Edgar? It was Rick Brim, says Brock, who has his excitable enthusiasm.

As well as the main TV, cinema and online ad, the campaign will also include include individually branded TV product adverts featuring Edgar. Merchandise includes an Edgar soft toy, slippers and pajamas and a storybook of the tale, while other activity around the campaign includes a Snapchat lens that turns users into fire-breathing dragons and a specially-created Edgar emoji. A set of bespoke Edgar animations have been created to appear throughout December, within ITV editorial and program announcements. They'll show him getting excited about some of the biggest Christmas TV moments in 2019.