Monty the Penguin and me


November 6, 2014 by Sian Rowland

As a freelancer I get to do all sorts of work- some run of the mill and some in order to pay the bills but sometimes I get a commission I’d (almost) do for free. adelie

Last year, Hopscotch Consulting asked me to write some child and parent/teacher activities to go with the John Lewis Christmas campaign. The John Lewis advert has become almost as much a part of the festive season as mince pies and being in on the secret made me feel like a child again. Which is pretty hard for an old cynic like me.

I had to go up to John Lewis headquarters in Victoria, sign all sorts of secret documents that said something along the lines of being whisked away to the Tower for incarceration if I breathed a word of the storyline. A laptop was then opened for just long enough to see the ad before being snapped shut again. It was really exciting when teasers started appearing on social media and the ad first appeared online. Last year’s Bear and Hare was then shown as a single ad in an X Factor break and immediately started trending on Twitter. You know you’ve made when the parodies start to appear and there were some hilarious ones.

This year I was invited to write some activities for the 2014 campaign. Unlike last year, I wasn’t allowed to see the ad for fear of leaks. If I thought last year’s secrecy was tight, this year’s was worthy of MI5. After signing the usual non-disclosure forms, I was talked through the story via conference call. It was a bit odd writing materials for an advert and characters I hadn’t seen but the brief was exceptionally clear and John Lewis were really pleased with what I wrote.

I did loads of research on Adelie penguins and the Antarctic and learnt about CGI processes. I also had to come up with an outline for a toy passport. It’s an activity I’ve used with key stage one children many times before and is great fun. The designers took my ideas and created a really cute passport template. See if you can spot my theatrical influences with my suggestion of putting on show!

I watched the actual advert for the first time this morning and was really excited to see the activities all designed and ready online. Like last year, there’s an interactive game and e-book (this year voiced by Dermot O’Leary) and a gallery for children to upload their drawings and artwork.

So if you’re a teacher or parent with under 11s, take a look at the activities and give them a go.

You can also find out more about Adelie penguins here and even adopt one. Tip: you won’t find a real penguin under the tree on Christmas morning. Soz.

Meanwhile it’s back to reality and researching curriculum links for me…

5 thoughts on “Monty the Penguin and me

  1. A brilliant post – I’m wondering if I can steal some of your knowledge though! Forgive me. But what advice could you give to someone who wants to find ‘writing jobs’ or ‘experience’?

    • Sian Rowland says:

      Thank you. If I knew the answer to the writer’s jobs question I’d be doing it full time! In terms of experience, I offer people guest blog posts. Research some blogs and offer to do a free post for them. If I do a commercially based post I ask for payment. My specialism is education so find your specialism and research publications related to it. Also consider your hobbies- my first magazine feature was about singing in a choir! Good luck.

  2. I shall absorb your great advice like a sponge and plan some action points tonight. I appreciate the help and good luck with your blogging adventure!

  3. Although I hate anything to do with Christmas appearing before December, well done!

  4. Sian Rowland says:

    Thank you. I kind of agree though…

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