The new John Lewis 2017 Christmas advertising is out. I feel like a little kid who races downstairs only to be disappointed by my gift. And then I feel bad about it. This year, I feel “It’s OK”. From a brand view, it’s pretty safe. From a consumer view, it is disappointing.
For a few years, there was hysteria and anticipation for the John Lewis Christmas ad, but that may be dying down if they fail to deliver. During the era amazing John Lewis advertising they were able to link the advertising with sales growth of 5-8%. The connectivity with consumers was helping buck the declines other retailers were facing with e-Commerce.
Here’s the John Lewis 2017 Christmas advertising
What do you think?
To me, the ad is OK, but not great. It’s cute, but not brilliant. It falls a little flat, compared to previous John Lewis ads. It has a monster, which a cross between Monsters Inc. and the Monty the Penguin they did a few years ago. I didn’t like that one either.
Ugh. I just wish it was better. I wish it was like 2010 or 2011 when John Lewis made the best Chrtimas ads.
How do you feel about it? Is it just me?
I have worked on campaigns that lasted 10 years and 5 years. The hardest thing for a Marketer is to stay on track, yet try to beat last year’s spot. It is very hard to be creatively different, yet stay in line with the campaign. Those fight against each other. Since 2009, John Lewis has wiggled a little each year. Each year, the ads had been highly creative, the ads that created the magic simply through the eyes of the children in the ads. The emphasis has always been on giving. You will see there is not a lot John Lewis branding in any of these ads, but there is a certain degree of ownership.
How’s this ad.
- It’s not that different. Seems to borrow a few elements of traditional Christmas elements and pieces them together into a story.
- There story is OK. Not that clear at the end. Was I the only one that didn’t understand the gift, is to reduce the boy’s fears and allow him to sleep? Weak ending.
- The ad is missing the emotional tension in the story. Sure, the kid can’t sleep. But it lacks that emotional tension of the other John Lewis spots.
- It is not really about John Lewis’ big idea around “thoughtful gifting”. The ending is a little confusing, as I wasn’t quite sure what the gift was at first.
The history of John Lewis Christmas ads
2016: Buster the Boxer
Pretty simple story. Kid likes to bounce on things. Dad builds a trampoline. Animals come out and bounce on it. Dog sees them and is jealous. Dog bounces on the trampoline before the kid gets to it. Kid disappointed? Mom and Dad disappointed? No one seems happy. But a dog on a video gets tons of views.
2015: Man on the Moon
This spot was great on story telling, but it might have gone overboard on sad. But I truly loved it. My second favorite John Lewis ad next to the 2011 spot.
Yes, the man on the moon is a metaphor (sorry, there really isn’t a man on the moon) for reaching out and giving someone a gift. For me, this ad quickly reminds me of when my own kids are on the phone or FaceTime with my mom. There is a certain magic in the innocence and simplicity when the very young talk with older people. They both seem to get it, maybe sometimes more than the in-between ages where the innocence of Christmas is lost within their busy schedules.
2014: Monty the Penguin:
Pretty simple ad, a little similar to the 2017 spot. The imaginary penguin becomes his best friend, and in the end, he gets a penguin toy for Christmas. In 2017, the imaginary monster becomes his best friend and the monster gives him a toy so he won’t be scared at night. Pretty damn safe. Seems to be targeting younger moms and their toddlers.
2013: The Bear and the Hare
This ad a bit of a departure, going to animation and utilizing on-line and in-store media. This campaign seems trying too hard to capitalize on their success. Doesn’t feel like a fit for the depth of story-telling of the 2010 or 2011. I get the sense they felt they were too dark on tone in 2012, so they went very light in 2013.
The “snowman” ad went a bit too dark for me with missed the tone feeling like a slight miss for John Lewis. I felt they were trying too hard. Maybe feeling the pressure to keep the campaign alive by being different when really the consumer just wants the fast-becoming-familiar-John-Lewis-magic each year.
2011: Counting down
This is my favorite John Lewis ad from 2011, about the boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. Great story telling about the boy who could not wait, but with a nice surprise at the end. You will notice the “Man on the Moon” feels very similar. But that’s OK, traditions are allowed to have some repetition to the ritual.
2010: “Your song”
This is also a great one from 2010, with the story telling improving over the 2009 spot and Ellie Goulding’s cover of “Your song” is incredible. With the multiple stories throughout the spot, it has that “Love Actually” quality to the ad.
2009: Sweet Child of Mine
This ad was the starting point for the great advertising John Lewis would do. Engaging video story-telling with a soft cover of a classic song. These would become the trademark of the great John Lewis ads over the next few years.
I guess I’ll have to wait for the 2018 John Lewis Christmas ad! 🙁
Christmas is about 8 weeks away. Expect to see this spot a lot on your social media feed. But, also expect the other UK retailers to compete as they did last year.
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