The Magic of Brand Strategy.
John Lewis Christmas ads have truly become synonymous with the holiday season. Their ability to not just showcase products but to craft stories that genuinely touch our hearts is a masterclass in brand strategy. John Lewis have strong brand values and each and every advert is a testament to these: do right, all or nothing, give more than you take, be yourself always, and we not me. By crafting adverts around their brand values and creating adverts full of emotional connections with their target audience, brand loyalty, brand trust, and brand reputation have stayed strong year after year.
Take, for instance, their 2012 release ‘The Journey.’ Two children crafted a snowman and a snowwoman in their front garden, but one morning the snowman mysteriously disappeared. We follow him through forests, towns, and on motorways until he arrives at the John Lewis store. The magic peaks as the camera cuts back to the reunited snow couple in the front garden. The snowwoman is now adorned with a new hat, scarf, and gloves – a thoughtful gift from the snowman.
So, how did this advert manage to capture our hearts? By weaving a narrative around the simple act of gift-giving, John Lewis transformed a Christmas advert into a touching story of love and generosity. It makes you reflect on your own loved ones and the gifts you would like to present them with. The cherry on top? The choice of Gabrielle Aplin covering Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Power of Love,’ adding a modern and popular layer – elevating the overall reach of the advert.
The History of Holiday Marketing.
To make these characters an even bigger part of our Christmases, John Lewis released Monty and Mabel mascots. These charming companions weren’t just toys; they were tangible symbols of the love and joy from the advert, flying off the shelves within hours. This move showcased John Lewis’s dedication to making the audience an active part of the enchanting world they had created. It wasn’t just about watching a story; it was about bringing these stories into people’s lives, allowing them to relive Monty’s journey in their own homes.
John Lewis didn’t stop there, in their stores, they created fun Monty-themed activities. They used technology like ‘Monty’s Goggles,’ which lets you step into Monty and Sam’s world in a 360-degree virtual way. There was also an app version of ‘Monty’s Christmas Storybook’ that you could enjoy with the goggles. They even teamed up with Microsoft to launch Monty’s Magical Toy Machine, turning kids’ toys into moving characters on a screen.
As part of their campaign, they collaborated with WWF to protect penguins in Antarctica, just like Monty and Mabel. You could join in by either purchasing Tom Odell’s song or adopting a penguin with WWF. This approach was excellent marketing as it aligned the brand with a cause, showcasing social responsibility. By giving customers the option to contribute through song purchases or penguin adoptions, John Lewis not only engaged them emotionally but also positioned itself as a brand that cares about environmental conservation. This fostered a positive brand image and encouraged consumers to make purchases that contributed to a greater good. It was a win-win, where customers felt good about their choices, and the brand made a meaningful impact beyond just selling products.
These tactics have all contributed to the success of John Lewis’ Christmas adverts due to their multi-faceted marketing approach– designed to reach and engage varied audiences far and wide. In an age where television adverts may be dropping in viewership, John Lewis have made sure that their stories are experienced by people at every turn. This showcases how their value of ‘all or nothing’ really is being put into practice.
Brand Strategy isn’t Just Data.
Every ad tells a special story, aiming to stir up emotions. They bring joy, tears, and, above all, etch the brand into our memories. This is where the real magic happens. Each ad is a living example of John Lewis’ core values, carefully woven into their brand strategy. Brand strategy isn’t just a bunch of data; it’s a marketing marvel that can reshape a company’s story entirely. John Lewis choosing creative paths aligned with their values is a clear sign that investing in brand strategy truly pays off, giving your company an authentic voice.
Navigating effortlessly from television screens to the expansive digital landscape, Snapper, the enchanting focal point of John Lewis’s 2023 Christmas campaign, extends its appeal across diverse marketing touchpoints. A testament to their adaptive marketing strategy, the campaign incorporates a revamped logo featuring leafy typography, a social media challenge encouraging families to share their Snapper stories for a chance to win a John Lewis gift card, and product photos adorned with Venus Fly Trap vines. Their Facebook banner also showcases Snapper alongside the hashtag #TraditionsGrow. This approach not only strengthens the emotional connection with the audience but also demonstrates an understanding of digital trends. The incorporation of a social media challenge fosters engagement, turning audiences into active participants, while the altered logo and thematic product imagery contribute to a cohesive and immersive brand experience.
Furthermore, this strategy aligns with the evolving landscape of advertising consumption, where platforms like TikTok and YouTube play pivotal roles in amplifying Snapper’s charm beyond traditional TV viewership. By recognising and leveraging these channels, John Lewis not only adapts to changing consumer habits but also ensures the campaign’s virality, reaching audiences where they increasingly prefer to engage with content. As an agency specialising in the digital realm and behind-the-scenes expertise, this example underscores the significance of crafting cohesive, adaptable digital campaigns that resonate across various touchpoints, meeting audiences where they are and ensuring the magic of a campaign can go viral in the digital sphere.
Let Your Traditions Grow.
In 2023, John Lewis has taken a different approach to their Christmas ad, introducing a tale of unexpected bonds and unique traditions. It features a young boy called Alfie, who buys a “grow your own perfect Christmas tree” kit that turns into a Venus Fly Trap named Snapper. They bond, but the family disapproves, exiling Snapper to the backyard. On Christmas morning, torn between tradition and Snapper, Alfie shares gifts with him. The family joins, and Snapper playfully returns the gifts, marking a new and unconventional tradition.
Rosie Hanley, Marketing Director at John Lewis, emphasises the ad’s intent, stating, “This year’s story of friendship, of making space for others, of being willing to do things differently and adapt your traditions to those around you is a really joyful story.” Her words not only capture the essence of the narrative but also underscore the brand’s keen understanding of the evolving dynamics within modern families.
The clever strapline, “Let Your Traditions Grow,” not only aligns with the storyline but also subtly encourages viewers to embrace individuality during the Christmas period.
But as always, John Lewis doesn’t stop there. Snapper extends beyond the screen, becoming a larger-than-life presence at Kew Gardens and a structure climbing their Oxford Street store. This takes the campaign from a TV ad to a real-world spectacle, creating a compelling reason for people to visit the store to meet Snapper in person. They’ve also released an extensive range of associated merchandise, from soft toys and pyjamas to books, baubles, Christmas cards, biscuits, chocolate, and tote bags, something for everybody. This strategic merchandising not only reinforces the magic of Snapper but also provides consumers with tangible keepsakes, ensuring that the enchantment of the Christmas campaign lingers long after the TV screens have gone dark.
As families everywhere embrace the unexpected charm of Snapper, John Lewis proves that traditions, even unconventional ones, can be the most special of all.
John Lewis Soars Again.
John Lewis Christmas ads have become a cultural phenomenon. They’re the trendsetters, the gold standard. Other brands follow suit, but John Lewis is always a step ahead. The social media buzz around their annual releases? It signals the festive countdown for the marketing world.
In 2023, John Lewis’s inventive Christmas ad received positive headlines, while M&S’s attempt at being different resulted in controversy and shopper backlash. M&S, an early player in the holiday ad game, launched “Love Thismas not Thatmas,” featuring singer Sophie-Ellis Bextor, Tan France from Queer Eye, and Hannah Waddingham from Ted Lasso. The ad depicted burning cards, discarded games, and festive hats shot into a snow cannon. A posted outtake on Instagram, showing paper hats in a fireplace, sparked criticism with people noting the hat colours looked like the Palestinian flag, deeming it insensitive amid the Israel-Palestine conflict.
In marketing, understanding the potential impact of visuals and messages is crucial, ensuring they resonate positively with diverse audiences. John Lewis’s success underscores the importance of striking the right chord, creating a festive experience that captivates without causing unintentional harm. By sticking to their core values, John Lewis are always presenting a version of themselves that is aligned with their brand strategy.