“Christmas saw us aim to bring much needed escapism to the nation. So, we ‘crash-landed’ seasonal magic in new and exciting formats, showing up ‘unexpectedly’ right where our customers were spending their peak periods!” Holly Kicul, Partner & Senior Advertising Manager John Lewis Partnership

John Lewis, ITV and Metaverse.

Here’s a magical Christmas tale full of wonder, joy and alien spaceships... of how a single synchronised marketing moment in the metaverse led to 80% of Fortnite gamers seeing John Lewis as a modern brand, helping to establish a new and younger audience.

A little background

Trampolining dogs, a bear and a hare and Elton John...for 10 years, Christmas only begins as the John Lewis ad launches! 2021’s ‘Unexpected Guest’ would see the blossoming friendship between a boy and a young alien – whose spaceship recently crashed to Earth – as they experience the joy of Christmas through fresh eyes. However, recent research suggested the brand was seen as ‘increasingly less relevant and, at worst, out-of-touch’. MG’s main KPI was therefore to infiltrate more shared family moments at Christmas, with both live TV and gaming being the two highest indexing of these. MG invited ITV into the launch, with the challenge of reaching audiences in an exciting and unexpected way.

Our insight

Although ‘traditional’ audiences would be waiting excitedly for the campaign, younger audiences would be none the wiser. So, just like the spaceship, we’d need to crash into their world in an unexpected and authentic way, if we were to win their attention.

The big idea

A buzz-inducing, fame-driving, talkable launch would need a big moment: we’d grab their attention by crashing John Lewis’ spaceship into ITV sets and shows and build towards a synchronised 4D ‘meta-moment’ combining metaverse gaming in Fortnite, a primetime product placement, and a unique real-life London stunt.

Making it happen

We worked with ITV Creative to produce a teaser campaign inviting viewers to “Tune in tomorrow...” and showing the spaceship’s bright tail as it streaked across the skies above the Emmerdale village, ITV offices and through The Chase and This Morning’s studios. John Lewis ‘landed’ when we premiered the full ad in the centre break of Pride of Britain on 4th Nov. The ITV Hub became the exclusive home for additional content, celebrating the partnership with the extended version, and a ‘making of...’ behind-the-scenes film. Let’s hyperjump to 7th Dec for our 3-part synchronised ‘meta moment’ which delivered a second spike. We
brought John Lewis into ‘I’m A Celebrity’ by building a bespoke woodland winter scene, with the spaceship protruding from the ground for a legendary Castle Coin Challenge. The product-placement saw celebs Naughty Boy and Snoochie fix the spaceship, and swap hard-won coins for mince pies from grumpy shopkeeper ‘Kiosk Cledwyn’ who wore the John Lewis Xmas jumper.
Contextual spots in supporting ad breaks had shown the spaceship plummeting towards our castle grounds.

At precisely the same moment, the spaceship crash site was also revealed in the I’m A Celebrity Welsh castle map we’d built in Fortnite Creative. Gamers explored the spaceship in the 3D environment, designed by ITV-owned specialists Metavision. Gamers could complete trials and branded minigames in return for coins to exchange at a virtual John Lewis Castle Shop. Gaming influencers, such as Ali A, promoted it to their followers on TikTok, Instagram, Twitch and YouTube. The Fortnite map was further promoted on ITV. And finally (also at precisely the same moment) an immersive 4D creative of the spaceship crash-landing near the I’m A Celebrity castle played in the physical world, on Outernet London’s new Ultra HD screen on Tottenham Court Road. Designed by Epic Games, it was the first public use of this breath-taking new attraction.


87k There were 87k map plays in Fortnite with a 16min play time (8900% more engagement than usual)

60% Of those watching the content on the ITV Hub, 60% watched both the ad and ‘The making of...’

7 in 10 said Fortnite ‘told them something new about John Lewis’, ‘made them want to find out more’, and ‘made them more likely to shop there’

79% Of those playing 79% said ‘the brand is changing for the better’

325k Our influencers generated 325k views on YouTube, 101k on Twitch, 92k on TikTok and 165k on Instagram

£1.8million John Lewis product featured in the show for eight minutes, valued at £1.8m vs an investment of £80k


Keep up to date

Keeping up to date with the latest insights and inspiration from ITV Commercial is easy

Stay in the loop