With U.K. retailers currently pulling out all the stops to entice customers into their stores, Billboard.biz looks at five U.K. TV commercials - kicking off with the holiday season's biggest synch star.


-- Ellie Goulding "Your Song" - John Lewis

A moving cover of Elton John's evergreen "Your Song" by U.K. pop act Ellie Goulding sits at the heart of a glossy seasonal ad from U.K. department store John Lewis.

Elton John and his publisher (Universal Music Publishing Group) will certainly benefit, but the synch has also boosted Goulding's career. Performed in collaboration with Ben Lovett from U.K. folk rock act Mumford and Sons, Goulding's rendition is proving a big hit with consumers.

Made available to purchase as a single song download from iTunes for £0.59 ($0.93) from Nov. 12, the track went to No. 1 on the iTunes U.K. download chart. It moved 39-3 on sales of 85,000 on the Official Charts Company listing on Nov. 21.

The song, which features an understated piano and string arrangement, will also be included on a deluxe version of Goulding's debut studio set "Lights" (Polydor), renamed "Bright Lights," due for U.K. release Nov. 29.

"We all had hopes for it but we are definitely pleasantly surprised by how well it's done," says Hannah Neaves, head of marketing at Polydor Associated Labels, who adds that it has put Goulding in a strong position for sales of the deluxe album in December.

Neaves says Universal Music's director of film, TV and advertising Marc Robinson had a "really good relationship" with the John Lewis advertising agency Adam & Eve, which was looking for a female vocal on "Your Song."

"Ellie's version came in first," Neaves says. "She was actually demoing some stuff anyway with Ben Lovett, so they just happened to be in the studio and managed to turn a version round really quickly. Everyone at the agency and John Lewis just completely fell in love with it."

-- A Fine Frenzy "What I Wouldn't Do" - Matalan

Matalan launched its first TV ad in four years this month during ITV's "The X Factor" featuring clothes and home wares for the Christmas season. The choice of this breezy track from A Fine Frenzy's second album "Bomb in a Birdcage" (Virgin) was a smart move: U.S. singer-songwriter Alison Sudol has made little impact in the U.K. so it sounds fresh and unfamiliar. She's had some success in Europe but it remains to be seen if she can capitalize on the synch in the U.K. next year.

-- The Bee Gees "You Should Be Dancing" - Marks & Spencer

The clothes, food and home wares retailer always dominates TV at Christmas and this year it's played it safe with a Bee Gees Christmas party classic and comedian Peter Kay. The ad actually features former "X Factor" judge and former pop star Dannii Minogue, although her repertoire is probably rarely dusted off for any synch action. (It's hard to believe this Minogue sister actually had 19 U.K. top 40 hits between 1990 and 2006.) VV Brown also appears in the ad, which can only help her profile in her home market where she has not made a huge sales impact.

-- Colne Valley Male Voice Choir "All Through the Night" - Sainsbury's

The mass merchant has clearly spent a fortune on this cinematic, reassuringly English promo filmed in the Yorkshire Dales village of Halton Gill. It features the celebrity chef - and long-term face of Sainsbury's - Jamie Oliver. The Colne Valley Male Voice Choir is probably too understated on this to reap any major commercial benefits. But the choir's busy enough according to it website, including an appearance on BBC Radio 2 in January.

-- Little & Ashley "Winter Night" - Amazon Kindle

Annie Little and Marcus Ashley are Amazon Kindle's house band and the latest cute, stop-motion holidays commercial should help the Kindle do good business in the U.K., where it retails for £109 ($172). The duo is so tied in to the brand it is difficult to see them making an impact in the U.K. in their own right, and the British store isn't offering a free download of the track "Winter Night" like Amazon.com. Curiously, there is a free Amazon U.K. download of "Lover's Carvings" by British producer Biblio from the alternative Kindle commercial.