The most wonderful time of the year is upon us again. The Starbucks red cups are back, the Coca Cola truck has begun its annual tour of the UK, and Michael Bublé has emerged from his cave for further renditions of Holly Jolly Christmas. That can only mean one thing; the release of a new John Lewis Christmas advert!

The John Lewis Christmas advert has become somewhat of a tradition in the UK consumerist calendar over the last 11 years and have pulled at many a heart (and purse) string of the British consumer. Their big-budget advertisements tell heartwarming tales about the joys of the festive season, often featuring cute and cuddly characters, such as plush penguins, boxer dogs, and, occasionally, a monster under the bed.

This year’s highly-anticipated advert, The Boy & The Piano, stars music legend Sir Elton John. Whilst sat at his piano, the singer reflects on his life and career, from playing grandiose venues and packed-out stadiums, to playing the piano at school, right back to when he was given his very first piano as a child on Christmas morning, ending with the message, “Some gifts are more than just a gift.”

The campaign doesn’t end at the advertisement. Consumers will have the opportunity to see the sets, props and the titular piano as an in-store feature of their Oxford Street store, which has dropped the ‘Lewis’ from its store front to simply read ‘John’. As well as this, 14 other John Lewis stores across the country will feature a piano in store for consumers to play.

This is a continuing trait of the John Lewis Christmas adverts; the 2014 Christmas campaign featuring Monty the Penguin saw the retail chain sell plush replica penguins for £95.00, which sold out almost immediately on John Lewis’ online store, resulting in the plush appearing (and selling) on eBay for £499.00. 

The popularity of the John Lewis name during the festive months has even been played on by Twitter for their advertising campaign this year. John Lewis, a computer science lecturer from Virginia in the United States, receives over 50,000 tweets in error every year, which were intended for the retailer of the same name, many of which occur during the festive season. In response to this, Twitter have made John the star of their Christmas advert this year, which features various references and motifs from previous John Lewis Christmas adverts, such as a plush penguin, a moon, and a telescope.

Though festively-themed advertisements are far from an original marketing idea, the success and impact of John Lewis’ Christmas campaigns has seen other retailers attempt to recreate their success, such as Marks & Spencers and Sainsbury’s.

This year’s John Lewis Christmas ad, however, has polarised audiences. Though many are calling it a triumph, others are claiming it to be a more of a marketing ploy for Sir Elton’s retirement tour, as well as his upcoming biopic set to be released in cinemas next year. Others have claimed it’s simply not Christmassy enough, focussing on a tribute to the musician rather than celebrating the festive season. In response to this polarisation, Waitrose released an advertisement which playfully mocks the campaign, with brands such as Lidl and Pizza Hut taking jabs at the Christmas ad on social media platforms.

Regardless of the differing opinions, the advert has received just just shy of 10 million views on YouTube since it launched a week ago, and has put Sir Elton’s ‘Your Song’ (which features throughout the advert) in the running for this year’s UK Christmas Number One.

 The real question to ask now is, will John Lewis be selling a plush Elton John toy this year?

An Audit Nationwide team member has cycled over 500 miles across five countries to raise money for two charities!

Ryan Tout completed the epic bike ride from Havant to Dortmund, Germany with three members of his Sunday league football team, AFC Prospect Farm Rangers, as a fundraising event for their clubs two charities; The Grassroots Trust and The Alzheimers Society.

“The Alzheimers Society is important to us as a lot of our team have family members that have been affected by Alzheimer’s” said Ryan, Grassroots help underprivileged children in countries like Tanzania, India and Kenya and run child sponsorship programmes.

The team trained for over three months for the 500-mile journey, starting with a weekly bike ride, which soon became 25 to 60 mile bike rides three times a week. Despite their intensive training, they were still overwhelmed by the tremendous journey that lay ahead.

“The 135 mile ride from Havant to Dover was a real struggle” said Ryan, Once we passed Hastings, it became far more hilly than any of us were expecting, which really took its toll on us and we only just made it to Dover in time!”

From there, the team took the ferry to Dunkirk, France and continued their journey, which took them through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and finally through to Germany. The team faced a number of challenges on the way, including bike problems such as broken bike pumps, poor weather conditions and constant satellite navigation issues; Our Sat Nav kept sending us in the wrong direction and we got lost on a few occasions! Ive no doubt we did far more than 500 miles because of this! laughed Ryan.

Despite these challenges, the team managed to complete the journey within four days, crossing the finish line at Borussia Dortmunds home stadium, the Westfalenstadion – the team which inspired the AFC Prospect Farm Rangersclub crest and kit.

“Arriving at the Westfalenstadion was amazing, and the sense of achievement was overwhelming!” said Ryan. The team toured the stadium, before travelling back to the UK — this time by train.

“It was a fantastic experience and Im so glad we were able to do this for two great causes!” said Ryan.

Well done, Ryan!

If you would like to make a donation, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jon-crowley-3

For more information about the clubs two charities, please visit:

The Alzheimers Society: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/

The Grassroots Trust: https://www.grassroots.org.uk/

The team at Audit Nationwide have signed up to take part in cupcake day, which will be held on the 14th of June this year.

It is a day dedicated to defeating dementia, with the help of the small but mighty cupcake, we will be fundraising to beat dementia and raise awareness for the Alzheimer’s Society.