Animal rights group Peta has given retailer John Lewis its Compassionate Marketing Award for using a computer generated penguin in its latest Christmas advert.

The advert, featuring the CGI penguin Monty, was praised by Peta for not using live animals for entertainment purposes, which can leave animals "agitated, frightened and with weakened immune systems".

The annual Christmas advert from the department store, which has become a much loved tradition in recent years, cost £7m to make and features Tom Odell performing a cover version of John Lennon's Real Love.

John Lewis and its advertising agency, adam&eveDDB, used human actors as well as CGI from the Moving Picture Company to create Monty, who plays alongside a young boy named Sam.

"John Lewis' decision to use computer-generated imagery for its latest TV advert, rather than using frustrated, tormented animals, puts it in line with other progressive and conscientious companies and spares penguins the stress of being treated as living props", said Peta UK director Mimi Bekhechi.

"On-screen entertainment has progressed technologically as well as socially since the commercials of the 1970s, in which chimpanzees were forced to wear roller skates, carry pianos or pour tea from a pot. Slick creations such as this ad show that using actual animals, as well as being cruel, is utterly unnecessary."

Peta have previously praised Darren Aronofsky's Noah and Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes for using CGI instead of real-life animals.

The advert, which was released on 6 November and made its TV debut during Channel 4's Gogglebox the following evening, has been viewed more than 11 million times on YouTube.