It’s become received wisdom in recent years that the countdown to Christmas begins with the John Lewis Christmas advert. 2014’s cutesy overload is set to feature a little boy and his cuddly toy penguin friend, according to journalists who’ve already managed to get a sneak preview.

Tom Odell John Lewis
Tom Odell is the lucky singer for this year's John Lewis Christmas ad

John Lewis has already stated the two-minute "Monty's Penguin" clip is designed to evoke "the magic of make-believe at Christmas through a child's eyes". Hmm. In any event, it’s bound to stick with the tried and tested formula of aiming directly at the heartstrings and tear ducts.

The British department store’s campaign reportedly cost £1 million to make, and comes equipped with its very own hashtag #MontyThePenguin. It may be a cynical manipulation designed to prise open wallets, but the John Lewis ad has become woven into the nation’s consciousness since the store started making them in 2007.

Last year’s sob-fest ‘The Bear and the Hare’, which featured Lily Allen whimpering along ‘hauntingly’ to Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, . This year’s obligatory whispery cover will apparently be of John Lennon’s ‘Real Love’, given a sickly veneer by British singer Tom Odell.

Lily Allen
Lily Allen recorded the soundtrack for last year's annual John Lewis sob-fest

In comparison to last year’s cinema screening launch, this year’s campaign, created by advertising agency Adam&Eve/DDB, is set to be a slightly lower-key affair, using social media and conspicuous teasers as the preferred vehicle for the ad’s rollout.

Watch the video for Real Love here

Posters in some London Underground stations featuring the hashtag and a picture of a penguin appeared a few days ago, and on Wednesday morning a handful of journalists were sent stuffed toy penguins with the same hashtag.

When can we see it? Well, a teaser video from Channel 4 heavily implies that the clip will debut during Friday’s episode of ‘Gogglebox’ (7 November), and social media rumours have that it will also air during Saturday’s edition of ‘The X Factor’.

More: Lily Allen apparently earned ‘nothing’ from 2013’s John Lewis Christmas ad. If £8,000 counts as nothing.