- Product/Brand - John Lewis Home Insurance
- Spot - Tiny Dancer
- Music Title - Tiny Dancer
- Artist - Elton John
- Composer - John, Taupin
- Publisher - Universal
- Master Rights - Universal
- Music Supervisor - Platinum Rye
- Ad Agency - Adam&EveDDB
- Creatives - Jo Cresswell, Sian Coole, Richard Brim
- Film Company - Blink
- Film Director - Dougal Wilson
- Air Date - 22/8/15
Spot for spot, nobody can match the sort of attention a new John Lewis TV ad attracts. And we’re not just talking about the UK’s top department store chain’s dominance of the Christmas commercial breaks.
Since 2010, it has traditionally launched at least one other high profile screen campaign a year built around a vintage pop music track designed to capture the public’s imagination.
Back then it was Billy Joel’s She’s Always A Woman To Me. Now it’s another piano ballad, Elton John’s 1971 album track Tiny Dancer, which is playing behind an endearing John Lewis Home Insurance film about a wannabe ballerina who narrowly misses smashing vases and pulling down curtains as she prances and pirouettes around her parents’ front room.
Lifted from Elton’s fourth album Madman Across The Water, Tiny Dancer clocks in at over six minutes and so was deemed too long for a single in the UK and struggled to reach the Top 50 in the USA.
It has subsequently emerged as a big favourite with fans and critics alike and was ranked one of Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time in 2010.
This ad doesn’t mark the first time John Lewis has used an Elton John classic in one of its TV commercials. In 2010 a re-recording of his debut hit Your Song by Ellie Goulding proved an unexpected Christmas best-seller, peaking at Number 2 in the Official Single Charts behind the X Factor Finalists cover of David Bowie’s Heroes.
And it isn’t even the first time that an original Elton John recording has graced the UK ad breaks. That honour goes to his 2001 single I Want Love which was licensed by The Royal Mail for an unusually camp Christmas spot starring the man himself!
According to Adam&EveDDB creative Jo Creswell the idea to use Tiny Dancer for this John Lewis commercial came in April when she and colleagues Sian Coole and Richard Brim first sat down to start work on the script.
“The moment Rick called her a ‘tiny dancer’ a light bulb went on in all our heads,” she says. “We knew we had to have the track and listened to it when we were imagining the scenarios.”
Star of the show is eight year old Bunny May McHugh who was chosen from over 200 primary schoolgirls and coached by The Royal Ballet’s Kristen McNally.
“We knew immediately that Bunny was the girl we’d written the script for when we saw her audition tape,” Cresswell continues.
“Kristen’s routine was closely choreographed but took Bunny’s strengths into account and made use of her best moves. Including all the hours of rehearsal time, the ad took 4 days to film.”
It was Tom Stanford at supervisors Platinum Rye who was tasked with licensing the track from the sync teams at Universal.
“Negotiations over big copyrights are never easy, especially when there are no other songs in the frame,” he explains.
“Rather than trying to hide this from the rights holders it’s better to be open and honest to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal – which is the creation of an advert that looks and sounds amazing.”