Armagh social enterprise bags role in John Lewis Christmas ad

Still from John Lewis' viral hit Christmas ad for 2022, 'The Beginner', which has already been viewed millions of times.

ARMAGH company Madlug has revealed how it bagged a role in the new John Lewis Christmas ad campaign.

Set up in Richhill by Dave Linton during 2015, the social enterprise endorses a ‘buy one, give one’ model, which involves a pack-away travel bag being donated to a child or young person in care every time one of their own bags is purchased.

More than 60,000 bags have been donated to vulnerable children to date.

The business model has earned Madlug a place in the John Lewis festive campaign for 2022, which is raising awareness of more than 100,000 children and young people currently in the UK care system.

As well as featuring in the TV ad ‘The Beginner’, Madlug's range of backpacks and shoulder bags are being sold in store and online by the retail giant.

“Each year the John Lewis advert is anticipated with almost as much excitement as Santa,” said Dave Linton. “And it is incredible that collectively we can shine a light on the hardships and upheaval faced by those in the care system.”

The Armagh founder, who started his company with just £480, said a child enters the care system every 15 minutes, many left to carry their belongings in black plastic bin bags.

“Madlug was founded in 2015 with the aim of tackling this issue and championing children in care by reminding them of their value, worth and dignity.

“The pack-away bags we donate are unbranded to avoid stigma and can be folded neatly into a sock drawer or a social worker’s car boot without wasting storage space.

“It is enormously encouraging to see a huge retailer such as John Lewis placing those in care at the heart of its Building Happier Futures campaign and of course, the viral Christmas advert,” said Dave.

“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to sell our products through John Lewis online and in selected stores, and for everyone who has supported us thus far because through choosing Madlug you are choosing to improve the life of a young person in care.

“Through our partnership with John Lewis we hope to not only raise awareness of the care issue, but to continue to make a lasting difference to the lives of as many young people in care as possible - not just this Christmas, but for many years to come.”


Madlug founder, Dave Linton.
Rosie Hanley, head of brand for John Lewis said the Christmas ad, which shines a light on the experiences of people in care, is part of its longer term ‘Building Happier Futures’ programme.

“Our aim is to help people with care experience in multiple ways, including finding meaningful employment,” she said.

“Madlug's 'buy one, give one to a child in care' model is another great way to directly help children in care - we are proud to stock their products as we collectively work to help improve the outlook of care experienced people."