John Lewis, Manning Gottlieb OMD and Adam & Eve DDB had begun the creation of a campaign capturing the magic of a child’s imagination at Christmas when they challenged us to do more than merely run a video ad across our platforms.
Monty is a penguin and also the best friend of a little boy, Sam. To the viewer Monty is a real-life penguin. However, by the end of the ad the audience discovers that Monty is actually Sam’s well-loved soft toy. A child’s imagination is a wonderful thing and many, like Sam, bring their favourite toy to life in their own mind's eye. The challenge, in line with the ad, was to get adults to “see through a child’s eyes”, invoking everyday imagination, encouraging them to see things “magically” and find new ways to expand and amplify John Lewis’s most important campaign of the year.
With consistent success year-on-year for its Christmas ads, it was important to John Lewis that media owners went over and above the norm to offer something truly innovative and add impact to their Christmas campaign.
We presented a unique idea: “Monty’s Magical Toy Machine”, an immersive in-shop experience that used the insights from the ad itself and eventually used breakthrough technology to bring the iconic John Lewis Christmas campaign to life.
The beauty of Monty’s Magical Toy Machine was that children could bring their own Christmas toys to the John Lewis Oxford Street store.
They entrusted their toy to one of Monty’s Helpers who would then scan it (within an ‘igloo’ type structure), after which it would appear as a 3D image on a massive 84-inch Samsung screen.
As the child waved or pointed at the screen, Kinect sensor technology triggered the toy’s awakening, and it started to dance…along with the children! Once both child and toy had danced their hearts out, they had the opportunity to take a selfie together and capture the magic moment.
But this simple, magical, idea was far more than child’s play to produce. In order to take the core idea of the John Lewis advert - toys coming alive - from the screen to the high street involved open collaboration with a diverse team, building on satellite imaging software and techniques as used in ‘The Matrix’.
I worked on this campaign from the initial ideas stage, I worked with Ben Richards (The Creative Director) and we threw everything we had at this campaign. Creatively we approached the client and their agencies in the same way a Creative Director would their Executive Creative Director, we kept coming back with idea after idea until one stuck. I remember a pile of ideas on A4, sharing them with the agencies and ripping them up as they were rejected. One of the ideas Ben and I came up with was Monty's Magical Toy Machine and this was the one selected by the client.
During this campaign I was responsible for idea generation, scoping, vendor selection, UX, sales support, technical architecture, delivery and dismantle.
This project was completed while I was employeed by Microsoft.