Nosy Crow managing director Kate Wilson watched U.K. retailer John Lewis’s 2012 Christmas commercial—about a snowman’s adventurous journey to find his girlfriend the perfect gift—when it debuted on November 9 and realized it would make a good children’s title. By December 1, The Snowman’s Journey, an exclusive four-color picture book, was in 39 John Lewis department stores and 282 Waitrose supermarkets across Britain.

Within five days of viewing the ad—which gained popularity immediately on YouTube and Twitter—the Nosy Crow team created a mock-up, presented it to Baker & Taylor, and met with John Lewis’s buyers, who signed off two days later. “It was very clear to me that we couldn’t go to them with just an idea,” Wilson explains. “We had to have the book.”

The Snowman’s Journey was featured prominently in stores and did very well given the limited sales window. The successful partnership also may lead to future opportunities. “It certainly showcased our abilities to John Lewis, which is a very good thing,” Wilson says. “

[John Lewis] is a very interesting company with a particular kind of feel,” she continues, noting that Nosy Crow staffers appeared (along with the snowman model from the ad) in the corporate newsletter of the employee-owned firm, and that the dummy went directly to the board. “I felt that they were one of the few big companies that could make a decision so quickly, and they did.”