Viewers ‘sobbing’ at John Lewis Christmas ad: ‘My eyes exploded with tears’

Year after year, fans wait in anticipation for John Lewis to release their iconic Christmas advert, which has a reputation for pulling at the heartstrings.

This year, the retailer chose to use its vast platform to highlight the experience of children in the care system, following the launch of the Building Happier Futures programme from the John Lewis Partnership.

In true John Lewis style, the heartwarming storyline of a foster parent learning how to skateboard so he can connect with his foster daughter has elicited an emotional response from viewers.

Some viewers shared their own stories of adoption, including John Lewis, an American computer science educator who frequently gets mistaken for the retailer due to his Twitter handle, @johnlewis.

Responding to the advert, he tweeted: “The ad is great. As the father of four adopted kids, I can relate.”

One person shared his experience of watching the advert with his son and wrote: “Me to son: ‘Oh look, it’s the John Lewis Christmas ad. It’s about skateboarding!’ We watch the advert. He then tells me about skating… I rush off loudly to make coffee. Sobbing as I do.

“As the dad of an adopted son, this one got me. Awesome.”

The user, who identified himself as Adopter Dad Alex, told The Independent: “I think it’s wonderful that John Lewis have used their prime time Christmas publicity to shine a light on children in care. As the dad of an adopted son, I watched the advert in awe, admiration and unadulterated emotion – then sobbed as I noisily made coffee!

“It felt like the most glorious, but emotional gut punch. I remember all of those fears and all of that preparation we put in ready for the big day. This advert has humanity at its heart. I only hope that many of the 100,000+ children in care may know that love at some point in their lives. Thank you John Lewis.”

One woman, named Ellie Probert, told The Independent how the advert had resonated with her own experience.

“Women will forever remember the day they discover they’re going to be a mother, a positive test, missed period or a sudden morning sickness that spontaneously appears one everyday morning. For my mother, it was a phone call: ‘There’s a little girl in Portsmouth that needs a forever home. Her name is Eleanor.’

“That phone call changed my life, it changed my parent’s life and most importantly, it moved me from the system into a loving home. I’m one of the lucky ones and I’m eternally grateful for the life I was gifted on that day. I guess when you’re adopted, it’s always a part of your character and subject you deeply care about.

“When the crux of the John Lewis advert is revealed, ‘Hey Ellie’, my heart melted faster than butter on fire and my eyes exploded with tears. Part of me pictured my parents very first, ‘Hey Ellie’, while the other half of me was reminded how many more Ellie’s are still in the system. At the end of the day, every child deserves a forever home.”

Another Twitter user said: “Having been a foster carer, I love this Christmas advert effort from John Lewis. After watching I must say I am glad our foster son was into Arsenal and not skateboarding.”

They added: “But I also want to say safeguarding children isn’t just for Christmas.”

A third said simply: “Ffs [sic]. I watched the John Lewis Christmas ad and now I’m a mess forever.”

The ad features a man trying to master skateboarding (John Lewis/PA) (PA Media)
The ad features a man trying to master skateboarding (John Lewis/PA) (PA Media)

The advert, titled “The Beginner”, is set to a cover of Blink-182’s “All The Small Things”, performed by US artist Michael Geier of the Puddles Pity Party.

It was created in partnership with Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland and aims to bring awareness to the different experiences of children in a complex care system.

Katharine Sacks-Jones, chief executive of Become 1992, the national charity for children in care, said she also worked with the retailer on the advert and praised John Lewis for its approach.

“Love this from John Lewis - this level of care should be what we aspire to for all our young people. Proud to have worked with them & young people to shape this. Such a loved brand standing with care-experienced people can really help tackle stigma & bring about change,” she tweeted.