Buster’s Garden at John Lewis

Every year the anticipation builds to see what John Lewis will do for a Christmas advert – and this year for the first time the advert has come alive thanks to a virtual reality installation in its Oxford Street store.

Much like the Coca-Cola truck tour, The John Lewis Christmas advert has become synonymous with the annual countdown to Christmas. For anyone who has been living under a rock, this year’s advert sees a selection of woodland creatures and Buster the Boxer having a great time frolicking about on a trampoline.

PrettyGreen worked in collaboration with adam&eveDDB and their production studio partner MPC Creative, who created both the CGI in the advert and the immersive VR content.

I visited Buster’s Garden in the toy department on the fourth floor and was guided through the experience by a brand ambassador.

Once on the trampoline and wearing the headset, I was transported from the hustle and bustle of the department store to the quiet and serene garden.  After a moment of two, I was joined by the woodland creatures from the advert. I interacted with the animals using various hand gestures. I was able to coax them into jumping, back flipping and if I bent down, the creatures came closer.

The MPC Creative graphics were detailed and well defined and the interactive element was deeply engaging. As the experience used the participants hands to control the animals instead of a traditional controller, in the video I am composited into the scene, which makes the experience even more unique. The animals reacted to my gestures instantly. and the VR headset was both comfortable and easy to use. As an activity for the whole family to enjoy, it is simple enough for children to be fully entranced and immersive enough for the adults to be entertained.  The brand ambassador’s  instructions on how to interact with the animals and make the most of time spent in the garden were easy to follow and the duration of the activation was just the right length.

On exiting the garden I was handed a piece of paper containing a link so I could relive the experience in the garden and share it via social media. A selection of Buster the Boxer and Friends gifts and toys were available to buy.

Bringing the advert off the television and into the real world was a great way for John Lewis to amplify their status as number one supplier of emotive and engaging Christmas advertising and I look forward to seeing how they will raise the bar once again in 2017.

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