Yahoo gets into the festive spirit with John Lewis for the launch of Unexpected Guest: The Experience


The John Lewis Christmas advert has become a much-loved British institution and for many, is the first signal that the festive season has arrived. This year, Yahoo helped audiences step foot inside the magic of one of the nation’s favourite TVCs, with a unique immersive experience. Through Unexpected Guest: The Experience, My John Lewis customers can explore the ad’s heartwarming story through the eyes of the advert’s schoolboy character, Nathan. Through the interactive experience, downloadable activity packs and AR animated characters, Yahoo is helping bring the iconic John Lewis Christmas spirit to life for families up and down the country like never before.

Unexpected Guest: Inside Nathan’s House POV Unexpected Guest: Christmas Dinner Table Layout POV

Giving viewers the power to digitally explore

Designed in Dreams, a game creation platform for Playstation, working with Media Molecule, the 3D experience gives viewers the ability to explore the digital environment of the John Lewis Christmas ad for the very first time - a real landmark moment for the intersection of TVC and immersive, and what this means for entertainment and storytelling now and in the future to expand beyond 2D, linear video content. In the TVC, a young boy named Nathan befriends Skye after seeing her ship crash-land, before then introducing her to the joy of festive traditions. This is skillfully brought to life in the immersive video experience, powered by Yahoo Edgecast, where visitors are able to move through a beautiful 3D recreation of the advert’s sleepy British street, woodland spaceship crash-site and Nathan’s family home.

Building connections with audiences through gamification

These activations are also responding to the growing appetite we’re seeing amongst consumers for engaging and experience-led campaigns, with Yahoo’s recent Christmas 2021 survey* finding that 50% of Gen Z want more immersive retail experiences.

Hidden throughout the experience are collectable star-shards, augmented reality characters, printable activity packs and exciting shoppable moments. There’s even a hidden treat in the form of nine ‘Easter Eggs’, all of which are a nod to iconic adverts from previous years. Will you find Edgar the Dragon fireside hiding place, a pair of Moz the Monster slippers or the trampolining Boxer?

Unexpected Guest: Outside Nathan's House POV Unexpected Guest: Travelling to Nathan's House POV

As part of these shoppable moments, audiences can click on items in the digital ad, such as the Christmas tree or dinner table decorations and purchase them from the site to elevate their own festive celebrations, helping to engage shoppers and drive direct sales for the John Lewis brand. From the same research, Yahoo found people are +22% more likely to want to buy a product directly from a digital advert (i.e online ad, DOOH, CTV), revealing how powerful technology integrations can be for consumer purchasing decisions.

“Together with John Lewis, Yahoo Creative Studios, adam&eveDDB, Media Molecule and MGOMD, the team has built an extraordinary experience for My John Lewis customers,” said Sam Field, Director of Creative Technology EMEA, Yahoo Creative Studios. “We’re delighted to have collaborated with a set of expert, industry-leading creative partners to bring new dimensions to the John Lewis ad that help to connect audiences old and new to the brand - all powered through the creative technologies we have built in-studio. By taking a 2D TVC and adding a 3D, virtual element, Yahoo has helped John Lewis extend its traditional advert beyond our TV screens, and we’re passionate about bringing these sorts of experiences to life at scale. Over the last 18 months, we’ve seen huge consumer demand for immersive experiences, and Yahoo will continue to invest in bringing great ideas to life through technology.”

Unexpected Guest: Wilderness POV Unexpected Guest: Wilderness and Christmas Tree POV

Exclusive for logged-in My John Lewis customers, the experience can be accessed at https://myjl-unexpected-guest.com.

*Source: Yahoo / YouGov Retail/Xmas 2021 Survey Nat Rep Nat Rep 2,000 Adults 16+


Yahoo Project Team

Luke Harrison - Executive Producer, Yahoo
Frazer Hurrell - Technical Producer, Yahoo
Melanie Ballantyne - Senior Project Manager, Yahoo
Emma Smith - Lead Designer, Yahoo
Chris Churn - Lead Developer, Yahoo
Sam Field - Director of Creative Technology, Yahoo
Sophia Ferjani - Creative Strategist, Yahoo
Akiko Tomiyoshi - 3D/XR Artist, Yahoo
Tatiana Osei - Agency Partner, Yahoo
Craig Jordaan-Kilroe - Post Production Supervisor, Yahoo
Frazer Cross - Legal Counsel, Yahoo

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