John Lewis Ad: Man on the Moon

John Lewis' tradition of Christmas ads that pull at the heartstrings dates back to 2007. Each year, millions of people watch the ad on YouTube.

This Christmas John Lewis and Age UK are partnering to help some of the million older people who will go for a month without speaking to anyone. Making a connection between young and old is also a way to create awareness of the multiple benefits to intergenerational connections.

Educator and social researcher Susan V. Bosak says (emphasis mine):

“In those at either end of the life course – the young and the old – you find striking similarities. We live in a society that values adulthood, and in turn doing – productivity and ongoing activity.

The young and the old share a different rhythm. It's one that focuses not only on doing, but on the power of being. It's the simplicity of playing with blocks or tending to flowers. The young and the old are most closely connected with the essence of living.

They can exist in a moment that's the grand sum of past, present, and future. Rather than time being the enemy – rushing time or stressing to fit as much into time as possible – time becomes a comfortable companion, a circle rather than a line.


Research shows children need four to six involved, caring adults in their lives to fully develop emotionally and socially.

The benefits to children of a close, long-term connection with older adults include:

  • Through grandparents, children have a better sense of who they are and where they've come from. They have roots, a history, and a sense of continuity and perspective.

  • Intergenerational bonds need not be traditional or biological. Older adult mentors can make a significant difference in a child's life. The involvement of a reliable, caring adult helps children develop life skills, and builds self-esteem and confidence. One study showed that when a child is mentored by an adult, they are: 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs; 27% less likely to begin using alcohol; 52% less likely to skip school.

  • In general, children develop higher self-esteem, better emotional and social skills (including an ability to withstand peer pressure), and can even have better grades in school.

  • Children feel special. Especially with grandparents, children are "spoiled" a little. Research tells us that, in moderation, this can be a good thing. Children know that being with their grandparents is special. They don't expect the rest of the world to treat them the way their grandparents do, so it's really not "spoiling." They experience an unconditional type of love that's not easily found elsewhere.

  • Children can get undivided time and attention from an older adult that tired, busy parents often can't give them.

  • An older adult can give children someone safe to talk with and confide in. While children may want to be different from their parents, they often don't mind being like their grandparents or other older adults. This gives elders a lot of power and ability to influence a troubled or confused child.

  • Through sharing in an older adult's interests, skills, and hobbies, children are introduced to new activities and ideas. Through their life experience, older adults can often bring with them a tremendous amount of patience. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes children pick up from elders tend to stick with them through life more than those picked up from other sources.

  • By getting to know "real, live old people" children look beyond the ageist stereotypes. […] When they can see the whole of their lives, they are more motivated and see greater relevance between what they're learning in school and their future. Research shows that "planful competence" – the ability to understand the life course and work toward goals – is key to student success in school and in life.

The benefits to older adults of a close connection with the young include:

  • […] a sense of "joyful freedom." As a grandparent, for example, they don't feel the pressure they felt as a parent. You get all the benefits and joys of parenthood without many of the drawbacks.

  • A relationship with a grandchild or young friend gives older adults a "second chance." […] a fresh start.

  • Active, involved older adults with close intergenerational connections consistently report much less depression, better physical health, and higher degrees of life satisfaction. […]

  • Young and old can fulfill the role of student and teacher for each other, and it's not always the older person who does the teaching. Children like to feel needed, and they can teach elders lots of things – like how to find some pretty cool stuff on the Internet! Children can also help older people, particularly those facing health challenges or other losses, see the world anew again, through a child's eyes.

  • Elders have an opportunity to leave a powerful legacy, to make a difference.


The richest forms of human development are most available to those willing and able to interweave their needs and potential with the needs and potential of others, especially those younger or older.”

In an age of ad skipping and blocking, the John Lewis Man on the Moon Christmas ad received more than 10,000 comments, 93,000 up votes, and almost 20.5 million views.

It's the story of a young girl called Lily. Looking at the moon through the family telescope one night, she's amazed at what she finds… a man on the moon.

Lily watches as he goes about his chores, all alone up there. She becomes determined to get something to the moon, to send him a message and show him that someone down here is thinking of him.

Along with the site to encourage donations to help Age UK be there for older people, a companion site collects moon facts and lesson plans for children.

Watch the ad below.


The song Half the World Away is interpreted by Aurora.