Tuesday, 19 November 2013

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Here's a post I wrote for out company blog recently about the new Christmas ad from John Lewis in the UK. Well, all of their Christmas ads really..
In case it had escaped your attention, Christmas is fast approaching. And over in the UK, that means it’s time for the annual round of big(ish) budget Christmas ads from some of the UK’s biggest brands, largely the retailers. Over the past 5 or so years, Christmas time has become the UK equivalent of The Superbowl for advertising.
The undisputed ‘main event’ over the past few years has been the annual effort from department store John Lewis, the 2013 edition of which aired for the first time late last week. Eschewing the all-to-popular ‘how many celebs can we squeeze in’ approach, since 2011 their ads have featured heart-warming, tear-jerking even, stories loosely based around the joy of giving. They’re all very different creatively, linked only by a common feature of a specially commissioned cover of a well-known song, but still somehow unmistakably John Lewis.
What I particularly love about each of these is that they are pure emotional brand ads – there’s not really any overt ‘message’ and barely any products featured. Certainly no range shots or price points. Any message that is there is about Christmas (being with loved ones, giving not receiving etc.) rather than anything about John Lewis itself. Very clever really, as it encourages and celebrates purchasing without all the negative over-commercialisation connotations.
I often find myself reminding clients in debriefs that consumers don’t pay half as much attention to our advertising as we’d like them to. Oh to be in John Lewis’ position where the everyman on the street not only watches and pays attention to your ads but actually looks forward to it every year. The first airing of this year’s ad in the middle of an episode of X Factor attracted more twitter buzz than the show itself. Of course most importantly, John Lewis has seen strong sales growth, at a time when the rest of the UK high street is struggling.
You can watch ‘Hare & Bear’ here, and also the previous ads from 2012 , 2011 and 2010. My personal favourite is the 2011 original (being a father of a young boy probably helps), but would love to know what everyone else thinks.

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