John Lewis spent a whopping £7 million on its new Christmas campaign – but it turns out the retailer only needs to flog around 74,000 plush penguins in order to recoup its outlay.

Yes, the star of the new TV ad – Monty the Penguin – will set you back £95, so fall in love with him at your peril.

The two-minute advert, which cost the department store £1 million of its £7 million festive advertising campaign, is based on friendship between a boy called Sam and Monty, his penguin pal.

[Related story: Penguin stars in John Lewis campaign]

Recognising that his penguin is lonely and needs a companion, Sam gives Monty a penguin girlfriend for Christmas – Mabel.

While Sam’s imagination brings Monty and Mabel to life – thanks to CGI in the advert – the penguin pair are revealed to be just cuddly toys at the end.

Sam and Monty in the John Lewis Christmas advert

Fans of the advert can buy Monty and Mabel merchandise, including cuddly toys at £95.

So anyone who wants a Monty and a Mabel for Christmas will have to pay £190 for the pair.

A 45cm soft toy of Monty the Penguin can be purchased from John Lewis for £95

That was a punchline too far for many, and Twitter was soon awash with complaints about the going price for 45cm of fur and stuffing.

With the World Wildlife Fund offering a cuddly penguin for sponsoring a real penguin for £3 a month, and London Zoo offering real penguin sponsorship, some social media users suggested it might be cheaper to buy a real penguin.

This Twitter user said John Lewis might be charging a premium to cover its massive advertising budget.

While others said they’d rather Monty be single than to have to pay out £95 for his girlfriend.

John Lewis is also offering smaller cuddly toys of Monty and Mabel, starting at £12 each.

Photo credit: John Lewis

Would you buy a £95 penguin soft toy? Let us know in the Comments below.