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Secret of Getting 55M Eyes: Decoding John Lewis's The Bear & The Hare Advert

Secret of Getting 55M Eyes: Decoding John Lewis's The Bear & The Hare Advert

“There once was an bear,

Who had never seen Christmas”

What do you think or feel after reading the above lines? 

Are you curious?

Why? Aren’t you thinking of knowing more about that fictional bear & his story?

Yeah, definitely. 

That’s where this iconic ad engages you and grabs your attention and that’s all it needs to become successful. 

This iconic video ad campaign “The Bear & The Hare ad campaign” created by Adam & Eve/DDB for “John Lewis” has gained over 55 million views on YouTube. Not only this, but this ad helped the company to boost sales by 25%. But what was so special in this video? Why did this commercial become one of the world’s most creative commercials? 

Let’s unfold the unheard secrets of this ad that you’ll never find anywhere else.

Background of “The Bear & The Hare” Advert

In the heart of London, in the crowd of Christmas commercials jostling for attention, a quiet revolution was brewing. In 2013, a department store named John Lewis, known for its stoic elegance, dared to break the mold. 

This, my friend, is the tale of "The Bear & The Hare," a Advert that defied expectations and redefined Christmas advertising.

The mastermind behind the campaign was Adam & Eve/DDB London, a creative advertising agency known for its emotional storytelling. They believed in the power of Christmas ads to transcend mere sales pitches and resonate on a deeper level. 

Adam & Eve wanted John Lewis to stand out, not just with a heartwarming story, but with one that tapped into universal emotions. So, they focused on "hibernation," a metaphor for loneliness and isolation, and the power of friendship to awaken joy and connection. And then they created this masterpiece.

Creation of “The Bear & The Hare” Campaign

The campaign was born out of a desire to break away from the conventional retail advertising approach and create a memorable, emotionally resonant Christmas campaign.

  • The creative team at Adam & Eve/DDB understood the power of storytelling in connecting with audiences on a deeper level. The decision to focus on a narrative featuring a bear experiencing Christmas for the first time due to hibernation was a unique and imaginative twist.

  • The agency recognized the importance of music in amplifying emotions, and the choice of Lily Allen's cover of "Somewhere Only We Know" proved to be a masterstroke. The song not only complemented the animation but also added a nostalgic and emotional layer to the ad.

  • The animation itself played a crucial role in bringing the story to life. It required a high level of craftsmanship and attention to detail. The characters were expertly animated to convey a range of emotions, making the bear and the hare relatable and endearing. 

  • The decision to use traditional hand-drawn animation instead of computer-generated imagery contributed to the timeless and charming quality of the visuals.

One of the challenges faced during the creation of the campaign was the risk of deviating from the traditional retail advertising formula. By choosing to focus on storytelling rather than promoting specific products, there was a gamble involved. However, the marketing team at John Lewis and Adam & Eve/DDB believed in the power of emotional storytelling to create a lasting impact on consumers.


The campaign was launched in November 2013, strategically timed to capture the holiday spirit and maximize its reach during the Christmas season. The initial response exceeded expectations, with the ad quickly gaining traction on social media platforms and generating positive reviews from both consumers and industry experts.

John Lewis saw a 28% increase in footfall and a 25% rise in online sales compared to the previous year. The campaign directly generated £48 million in sales and delivered an impressive ROI of 35:1. It solidified John Lewis's position as a brand synonymous with Christmas magic.

The campaign garnered over 20 million views just in a few days and won numerous awards.  The accompanying music quickly rose to the top of the UK Singles Chart, doing so twice more in later weeks.  A portion of the song's sales earnings were donated to Save the Children's Philippine Typhoon Appeal campaign.

Why did “The Bear & The Hare” Campaign go viral? 

It’s all about using the right psychological elements in the right place. Such as:

  • It starts with “There once was an animal, Who had never seen ChristmasAnd this incomplete story (line) is enough to instantly grab people’s attention! 

  • Apart from this hook, this ad features beautiful animated creatures. Its animation makes us part of the story and feel emotionally connected with the characters.

  • As we all know, nothing is more impactful than emotions. And this ad’s story makes everyone cry with its super storytelling. It succeeds in evoking our emotions through the eyes of those animated creatures.

  • The melancholic strains of Lily Allen's "Somewhere Only We Know" makes this ad 100X effective because music is like a powerful medicine the TV quickly sets your mood. 

  • The animation, a stunning mix of 2D and stop-motion, was both nostalgic and visually captivating. The detailed forest, the expressive characters, and the heartwarming climax of the bear experiencing Christmas lights – all these elements were visually arresting.


This ad campaign’s success showcases the effectiveness of a well-crafted narrative in advertising and reinforces the idea that emotional connections could be a powerful tool in brand building. The campaign's enduring popularity and positive impact on John Lewis's brand perception have solidified its place as one of the most iconic Christmas campaigns in recent years. 

Creating such iconic ads isn’t a cup of tea but that's exactly what Wow Animation does. We help brands take that one giant leap into the hearts and minds of their customers. We craft 2D animated ads informed by deep psychological studies of your brand and audience, ensuring every frame resonates and converts. With 800+ satisfied global clients, we're on a mission to make every advertiser a success story. Book your free consultation call with us today and let's discuss how we can make your marketing dreams a reality.



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