‘The Beginner’ was created by adam&eveDDB with input from partner charities Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland, as well as specialist advisors, throughout the production process. From the opening scene, with Christmas as a backdrop, we follow a middle-aged man as he struggles comedically to master the skill of skateboarding. We see through his determined eyes many failed attempts and mishaps as he suffers a series of accidents.
Viewers are left questioning the motive behind his perseverance until the final scene, when there is a knock at the door. We see a social worker standing with Ellie, a young teenager who is waiting anxiously to enter her new foster home, skateboard in hand. The significance of skateboarding to our protagonist becomes clear, as we understand his resolve to find common ground and a way to connect with Ellie as she is welcomed into their family home.
Children in the UK enter the care system via many different routes, and we understand that not all foster carers have the benefit of knowing who they will be caring for in advance. Ellie’s story is one portrait and our broader campaign also features authentic voices of carers and care-experienced young people with different experiences of a complex care system.
Building Happier Futures
Through the Building Happier Futures programme, we will support projects from organisations within the care sector that are working to build happier futures for care-experienced people, helping to prepare them for employment as well as providing direct apprenticeship opportunities within the John Lewis Partnership.
We will also directly support children in care and young people leaving care through the tough Christmas period with donations of decorations, food and gifts. Children in care and their caregivers will be invited into John Lewis to enjoy magical Santa’s Grotto experiences. We will also transform the communal spaces of selected residential facilities run by Action for Children with electronics, furnishings and decorations.
This Christmas our customers can support these aims by purchasing our Lewis Bear product: 25% of the sales from these items will go to our charity partners (Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland).* Products include; Lewis Bear £30, Lewis Bear pyjamas £19, Lewis Bear tote bag £5, Lewis Bear Chocolate slims £5, Lewis Bear Bauble Head £5, a Rampage Skateboard £34.99 and Waitrose Christmas Yule Log. Customers can also donate through our in-store giving tree. A Giving Tree in our stores will invite customers to donate to our partner charities by taking a tag from the tree with a value between £5-£50 and scanning it with their shop.
Claire Pointon, director of customer at John Lewis says: “We are fortunate to have a truly unique platform in our Christmas ad, which sparks a national conversation. As a purpose-led brand, making a genuine difference in our communities is important. At John Lewis, we care deeply about families and recognise that they come in many different forms. For our biggest moment of the year, we decided to focus on one kind of family that is often overlooked. We are also very aware that not all care experience outcomes are as positive as Ellie’s. The home Ellie enters is filled with kindness, and the foster father’s actions demonstrate that ultimately, it’s what you do that matters most.”
Imran Hussain, director of policy & campaigns at Action for Children says: “At Action for Children we want every child to have a safe and happy childhood. Every year, we work with over 40,000 children and young people in, or with experience of, the care system, and we know the challenges and poor outcomes they may face.We are delighted to be working with the John Lewis Partnership on its iconic Christmas advert and applaud the company for its work and long-term commitment to shining a light on the issues facing some of the most vulnerable children in the country. We believe this partnership will enable us to support and empower more children and young people as they make the transition from care into the adult world.”
Pippa Wicks, executive director at John Lewis says: “Turbulent times worsen social inequalities, and Christmas is a time when this can be most keenly felt. It’s more important than ever for our business to stand up and use our voice to make a difference where we can. Our Christmas campaign is an important step in our long-term plans to become the employer of choice for young people leaving the care system, and to provide lasting change and hope for children like Ellie.”
Louise Hunter, CEO of Who Cares? Scotland says: “We know that Christmas can be difficult for lots of people, and that’s particularly true for our Care Experienced community who may not have a family to spend it with. As the national membership body for Care Experienced people, we know that the Christmas period can bring loneliness, isolation and a sense of being different from others who enjoy a more traditional Christmas Day. We’re delighted that the John Lewis Christmas advert will feature a different kind of family, one which will resonate with the many thousands of people across the UK, with experience of care. At Who Cares? Scotland, our vision is a lifetime of equality, respect and love for all Care Experienced people and we are excited to have the support of the John Lewis Partnership in making that a reality.”
‘The Beginner’ is set to a soundtrack of All the Small Things, a cover of the Blink 182 track, performed by Mike Geier.
Further information on the launch of Building Happier Futures can be found here