John Lewis Christmas ad wins ‘compassionate marketing award’ for use of CGI penguins

The John Lewis Christmas campaign has generated much love on social media with millions of views and has now won praise from an unlikely source after animal rights charity PETA hailed the ad for its role in preventing animal abuse.

PETA has awarded John Lewis its first “Compassionate Marketing Award”, praising the retailer and its advertising agency Adam+EveDDB for using CGI to create the Monty and Mabel characters in the ad, rather than real-life penguins. A charity spokesman says it was inspired to create the award by the John Lewis ad for its role in demonstrating “why the exploitation of animals on-screen is obsolete”.

The move is unusual given that PETA usually lambasts the ad industry for how it portrays animals and has mounted a number of campaign against it. It has previously recognised people for helping animals and technological advances that reduce animal suffering, but never a brand.

PETA UK director Mimi Bekhechi says: “John Lewis’ decision to use computer-generated imagery for its latest TV advert, rather than using frustrated, tormented animals, puts it in line with other progressive and conscientious companies and spares penguins the stress of being treated as living props.

“Slick creations such as this ad show that using actual animals, as well as being cruel, is utterly unnecessary.”

John Lewis unveiled its Christmas ad campaign on Thursday (6 November) which this year features the story of young boy Sam and his imaginary friend Monty. Since launch the retailer says the TV ad has racked up more than 16 million views on social media, with 7 million of those coming within 24 hours.

Last year’s campaign, The Bear and the Hare, managed 1 million views in the first 24 hours.

“Monty” was also the most searched for term on John Lewis’ website by the end of last week (7 November).

The retailer says sales last week were up 5.1% year on year to £95.7m and increased by 3.9% compared to the prior week. Online sales rose 17% compared to year ago.