Fans of the John Lewis Christmas advert are split today over the decision to have millionaire Sir Elton John at its heart.
Critics have called the retailer’s 2018 campaign a ‘sell out’ and a ‘plug’ for the star’s farewell tour and his Rocketman biopic starring Taron Egerton, which is due for release next year.
But others including stars James Corden and Susanna Reid have praised it with some fans claiming it is the retailer’s ‘best ever’ Christmas commercial.
Many said its message that one present can change a life reduced them to tears.
James Corden is among the stars to have said how good the advert is and declared ‘holy s**t’ when he shared in online today
Richard Bacon and Susanna Reid also reacted positively to the £7million advert that will be shown on ITV1 tonight
Others said the advert was more about Sir Elton John than about Christmas
The £7million advert tells the tear-jerking story of his rise to fame and fortune from humble beginnings in Pinner, north London, where he was brought up by his mother Sheila and grandmother Rita.
Which other adverts has Elton John appeared in?
The John Lewis spot isn’t the first time the singer’s profile has been used to plug products.
Not only has he appeared in other TV adverts, but his music has been used in them on numerous occasions.
In 1984, the Rocket Man writer appeared in adverts for Sasson Jeans. He even approached them for the ad, winning sponsorship for that year’s American tour.
The following year he was helping Cadbury Chocolates flog their snacks by starring in an ad.
He recorded a cover of French singer Edith Piaff’s classic ‘La Vie En Rose’ for a commercial promoting luxury goods firm Cartier in 1994.
His 1977 hit Are You Ready for Love was used for a Sky Sports advert ahead of the 2003-2004 football season.
Last year, Samsung Gear VR used the song Rocket Man in its Ostrich commercial.
It ends with a four-year-old Elton – then Reg Dwight – unwrapping his first piano on Christmas Day in 1951 then cuts back to the present say showing the emotional 71-year-old playing the same instrument in front of the tree.
It is followed by the slogan: ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift’ and the retailer has today started marketing pianos for £800 – the first time it has sold them for decades.
Twitter went wild when it was released this morning and it has split opinion.
@mollytomkinss said: ‘I feel truly sorry for anyone who can’t understand the deeper meaning of the #JohnLewisChristmasAd this year. One creative gift can shape a child’s entire future’.
@Jordan_Lines tweeted: ‘Is it just me disappointed with #JohnLewisChristmasAd nothing xmasy at all.. that could of been about his bloody birthday’.
@robbie_smart wrote: ‘So the #JohnLewisChristmasAd this Year is just a trailer for the new Elton John film right?’
@lwg832013 said: ‘Having just watched the Christmas advert I think this is the most powerful yet!! #JohnLewisChristmasAd
@Aeris84 said on social media: ‘Just seen the #JohnLewisChristmasAd and, even if this year it was a bit different, I still ended up shedding a few tears’.
Harriet Wileman tweeted: ‘I’m never one to get emotional over Christmas ads but ooooh dear this one was a punch to the gut I was not expecting �� #JohnLewisChristmasAd #EltonJohnLewis
@Nimkins said: ‘Just saw the #JohnLewisChristmasAd and I’m crying. Best ad since the penguins’.
Sir Elton appears as himself in the commercial but is also played by five actors including four-year-old Freddie Henderson, who runs down the stairs on Christmas Day for its moving finale
Five actors played the star in the advert with recital boy Elton played by Hudson Trindall, 1970s Elton played by Oliver Marshall and 1990s Elton played by Simon Burbage (left to right). The adults were helped with CGI and prosthetics
Sir Elton sings his first big hit Your Song in a present day gig but the advert goes all the way back to his 1950s childhood
Some fans loved it – and saw it as a happy distraction from the Brexit chaos consuming the UK – with many crying through it
Five actors aged between four and 50 were used to play Sir Elton, using prosthetics, CGI and help from the star and his husband David Furnish to ensure they had the same mannerisms and piano playing style.
Viewers are taken back through key moments in his life with scenes of the star on stadium tours, travelling on a private jet, recording Your Song, playing the piano in a local pub and performing in a school recital.
It ends with Sir Elton – then little Reg Dwight – running down the stairs on Christmas morning to see his grandmother Ivy and his mother, who brought him up together because his father, Stanley, was largely absent.
John Lewis has said the advert is ‘inspired by real events’ but admits the finale involves ‘some creativity’ because the singer was never gifted a piano at Christmas, but he had learned to play at his grandmother’s house – and denied claims they paid him £5million to take part.
The advert, released online this morning, has divided opinion with stars including James Corden, Richard Bacon and Susanna Reid declaring they ‘absolutely love it’ while others have branded it a ‘plug’ for Sir Elton’s upcoming biopic movie and farewell tour.
Some fans were disappointed that cuddly stars such as Montie the penguin and Moz the monster have been jettisoned for a celebrity-endorsed campaign.
Shoppers might be disappointed to learn that there will be no plush toys available in Sir Elton’s likeness this year, with the retailer instead selling four pianos – two uprights for around £800 and two keyboards starting at £150 – and a range of vintage tour t-shirts.
It is also the second of the retailer’s Christmas ads to feature Your Song after singer Ellie Goulding recorded a cover for the 2010 campaign.
The advert’s nod to Elton’s mother and the influence on his career comes almost a year after her death last December.
Two years before she passed away the star found the courage to apologise to her after an eight-year feud that culminated in her inviting an Elton John impersonator to perform at her birthday party because she missed him so much.
Elton severed all contact with her after a catastrophic argument where she blamed Elton’s husband, David Furnish, for turning him against her.
She was also upset the Candle In The Wind singer demanded she cut all ties with her longtime friends Bob Halley and John Reid, who had both been fired from his entourage after decades working for him.
An emotional Sir Elton John is the star of the 2018 John Lewis Christmas advert, which tells the uplifting and poignant story of his rise to superstardom sparked with the gift of music
Elton, then Reg Dwight from Pinner, tears the paper away to reveal a beautiful piano that would inspire him to play
In the 1960s the star first started performing in the Northwood Hills pub in Pinner, around the corner from where he grew up
Actor Oliver Marshall wearing prosthetics and original clothes is shown performing on his stadium tour on the West Coast with the crowds recreated using CGI
Viewers are also transported into his tour plane in the 1970s when he became a global superstar and multi-millionaire
The finale shows Sir Elton playing the same piano and ends with the message: ‘Some gifts are more than just a gift’
But on her 90th birthday he sent Sheila a large bouquet of white orchids for her milestone birthday and also shelled out £30,000 for Sheila to undergo a double hip replacement.
When she died two years later he spoke of his grief – but happiness that they had become close again.
In September rumours emerged that Sir Elton had agreed to take part – but John Lewis has denied he was paid the £5million fee being mooted. They also said some of his fee was donated to charity.
The musician said today: ‘The John Lewis Christmas campaign has so many warm memories for me and my family.
‘It’s been a lovely opportunity for me to reflect on my life in music and the incredible journey I have been on, and how first playing my grandmother’s piano marks the moment when music came into my life.
‘The ad is absolutely fantastic and I’ve truly loved every minute of being a part of it.’
His husband David Furnish, who was involved in producing the advert, said: ‘I think Elton has enjoyed the process of making this tremendously. I think, you know, emotionally he is thinking about the journey he’s been on as an artist, and that moment, you know, when music came into his life at a very young age when he was encouraged by his mother and his grandmother with his piano’.
The Boy & The Piano was released online at 8am this morning before being shown on ITV at 9.15pm tonight.
The advert coincides with the start of ticket sales Sir Elton worldwide farewell tour and next year Taron Egerton will play him in Rocketman, the biopic film being made about the star, with his blessing, due for release next year.
John Lewis says the movie and tour is unrelated to their choice of star and advert, which was filmed over the summer.