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Monty mania and the impact of John Lewis’ Christmas ad


With the release of John Lewis’ latest Christmas ad, I wanted to find out how last year’s campaign is continuing to make a difference to penguins in the Antarctic.

Ice shelf tripAdélie penguins in Terre Adélie © Timothée Poupart/CNRS

There’s no getting away from it – Christmas is here. And as is now tradition, we’re all talking about the latest blockbuster TV ad from John Lewis.

This year we have the tale of the Man On The Moon, with its moving message about remembering the lonely and vulnerable at Christmas. John Lewis is using the ad to drive support for Age UK.

Last year we were lucky enough to be the charity benefitting from John Lewis’ Christmas campaign. In 2014 their ad introduced us to Monty the Adélie penguin and his quest for love in the suburbs.

Behind the ad, John Lewis promoted our efforts to protect Adélies and their Antarctic home. We received a donation from sales of the CD single and thousands of people were inspired to take out one of our Adélie penguin adoptions either for themselves or as a Christmas gift for a loved one.

A year on from Monty mania, I asked Rod Downie, head of our Polar programmes, what impact this has had on our conservation work.

“All the extra funding and publicity last Christmas has helped us extend the reach of our work in the Antarctic, where we’re striving to safeguard the future of these beautiful birds,” says Rod.

“While Adélie populations are currently increasing across Antarctica, we know that their numbers are declining in areas that are already being affected by climate change. This is a worrying signal for what could happen in the future.

“We’re supporting a team of British and French scientists out there on the ice, tracking the movements and feeding habits of penguins so we can get a better understanding of how we can protect them.”

It’s a harsh place to work. Temperatures can drop as low as minus 40C and wind speeds reach up to 300km/h.

Researcher with Adélie penguinsResearcher Jean-Baptiste Thiebot Terre Adélie © Timothée Poupart/CNRS

“Technology is helping the research team in a big way,” continues Rod. “They recently attached miniature video cameras to around 20 adult Adélies, giving us a closer view than ever before of how these penguins track and capture their prey. GPS tells us exactly where that prey is located, which helps us build a picture of the Southern Ocean’s rich biological hotspots.

You can read more about the research work on Rod’s blog.

He concludes: “We wouldn’t be gathering all this vital information at such a scale without the John Lewis campaign and our amazing supporters. We’re really grateful to them.”

So Monty continues to do his feathered friends proud. And while this Christmas we might gazing moonwards, his legacy lives on in the Antarctic.

This Christmas we want to make our planet number one with a breath-taking new version of the song ‘What the World Needs Now is Love’ performed by Will Young. Watch the video and support us. We’re also delighted that John Lewis is supporting us again through sales of some of their FSC-certified Christmas card designs

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