John Lewis has unveiled its £7 million Christmas campaign featuring a young boy and his penguin friend Monty in what is widely considered to be one of the major advertising events of the year.

The full 120-second ad follows Sam and Monty over a year of friendship, before the boy realises that his penguin is sad and longing for a companion.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iccscUFY860

Happily, Christmas morning sees Sam surprising Monty with the gift of a new penguin friend named Mabel, accompanied by the John Lennon track Real Love performed by Tom Odell and the strapline Give Someone The Christmas They’ve Been Dreaming Of.

Monty’s Christmas is the seventh John Lewis advert directed by Dougal Wilson and features CGI technology to ensure Monty and Mabel look and behave exactly like real Adelie penguins.

It cost £1 million to make and is part of the retailer’s overall £7 million Christmas campaign.

A John Lewis spokeswoman said while it was difficult to quantify the significance of the Christmas campaign, ‘the fact that we invest so much is an indication of how significant it is’.

The ad launches on the retailer’s social media channels today (November 6) and will screen on television tomorrow during the first advert break in Gogglebox on Channel 4.

It follows a teaser campaign using #MontyThePenguin and is accompanied by an extensive range of merchandise ordered in larger quantities after last year’s The Bear And The Hare toys sold out.

Stores will push the message within spaces called Monty’s Den, which feature ‘technology firsts’ such as Monty’s Magical Toy Machine and Monty’s Goggles that use Microsoft technology and Google Cardboard to allow children to enter a virtual world and interact with the characters.

Merchandise includes a children’s book called Monty’s Christmas, of which a proportion of the proceeds will go to Barnardo’s, stuffed toys, an umbrella and pyjamas. The retailer’s increasingly epic campaigns have included last year’s The Bear And The Hare, of which details were drip fed to the public ahead of it sending Twitter alight on its full release.

It went on to become the retailer’s most popular campaign, surpassing 2011’s The Long Wait about a boy counting down the days to Christmas so that he could give his parents a present which attracted more than 5.2 million views on YouTube.