The 15 best Christmas ads I have ever seen

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Christmas is a great time to drive home the connection between consumers and the brand. Get your consumer into an emotional state, and hopefully, those emotions pay back to your brand. But not everyone can pull it off. You likely need to have an established love for your brand already, or it would come across as lacking authenticity. If you are looking to get into the holiday spirit, here are the best Christmas ads I have seen, from all over the world. We include ads from the UK, Ireland, Australia, Poland, Spain, France, Canada and the US. Feel free to add your own to our mix. 

You will see a few common themes, such kids surprising us by showing they understand Christmas is more than gifts, or trying to do things for our parents or grandparents. I have added a few that stand out because they run completely counter to these themes.

Best Christmas Ads

John Lewis from the UK

Some of the best Christmas ads I’ve ever seen are from John Lewis, the department store in the UK. They use beautiful music, a movie-like storyline that demonstrates the beauty of gift-giving, stretched out over 90 seconds. No words are needed to tell the story.  They tug at the heart and bring a reminder of what the season is all about:  the gift of giving. I think this is the best one in the John Lewis (2011) series, with a nice twist and a tug at the heartstrings at the end.

John Lewis Christmas Ad
Play Video

Have a look at the John Lewis Christmas ad from 2020

Coke Argentina

Coca-Cola, the brand that came up with the look of how we see Santa Claus, creates a beautiful Christmas ad. From Argentina, here’s a brilliant take on spreading the joy of the season.   

Play Video

Tim Horton's in Canada

This Christmas ad will make you cry just a little bit.  A nice touch of reality about being a parent from the old school to the new school.

Tim Horton's christmas ad
Play Video

Allegro in Poland

This Christmas ad has great storytelling from Allegro, a Polish website. The ending is very heart-warming. Millions of views so far, lots of tears for sure.

Play Video

Anuncio Lotería from Spain

Every year, there is a lottery just before Christmas, Anuncio Lotería de Navidad 2016. The last few years, they have done some great ads with deep storytelling. This Christmas ad tells a sweet story of a grandmother who catches the winning number on TV from a few years ago, believing she has won this year’s lottery. Very cute that the family goes along with it as she moves through the village. Nice ending.

Play Video

Marks and Spencer from the UK

Marks and Spencer likely won the UK retailer contest of 2016. This Christmas ad does a nice job in telling the story of Mrs. Claus. While very modern, it still brings a lot of traditional touches of Christmas.

Play Video

Air Canada

One of the best Christmas ads from 2019. A very simple idea, but nice production. The main kid actor really delivers the magic, even more challenging to do it through visuals, as this ad must work in both English and French. 

Air Canada Christmas ad
Play Video

Sainsbury's from the UK

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1, Sainsbury’s created this very high production spot, telling the story of how the soldiers took a break from the war to share Christmas together.

Play Video

Mulberry in the UK

Not your normal holiday ad, but I love the creative idea behind this ad: WIN CHRISTMAS. So what beats a beautiful portrait, a puppy that waves or a unicorn? A new bag from Mulberry!!!  

Mulberry Christmas ad
Play Video

Burberry in the UK

The ad portrays Thomas Burberry as an obsessive inventor and entrepreneur showcasing the emotion he put into his craft. It may take liberties on the excitement of his life–bordering on making him into the world’s most interesting man in the world–but we certainly can feel his purpose and passion shining through.

Burberry Christmas Ad
Play Video

Apple iPhone from the US

In this 90-second Christmas ad, it shows a typical teenager hanging onto this iPhone constantly, and then from there, the magic happens.

Apple Christmas Ad
Play Video

Aldi in Australia

What would happen if Santa crash-landed in the Australian outback? Nice Christmas ad.

Play Video

Bouygues Telecom from France

A beautiful spot from France that will make you smile, dance, and maybe shed a tear. I love this spot. 

Christmas Ad Bouygues Telecom
Play Video

Currys from the UK

Similar to the Mulberry ad, this dry-humour ad with Jeff Goldblum really stands out. 

Christmas ad
Play Video

Supervalu in Ireland

From 2020, playing gently on the coronavirus issues, this Christmas ad has a very cute payoff at the end. 

SuperValu Christmas Advert
Play Video

Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips

Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. 

With Beloved Brands, we want to challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy. Our process for defining your brand positioning will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see your brand. 

We will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow and knows precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success. 

We will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work. 

You will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review. 

Over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management. 

I love the new John Lewis Christmas ad that tells us to give a little love

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market
John Lewis Christmas Ad

The new John Lewis Christmas ad for 2020 is out and celebrates the love we share by doing the little things for one another. Their message of “give a little love because together we can make a big difference” is perfect for 2020. 

Every year over the last decade, the launch of the John Lewis Christmas ad sets the bar for what other brands must match. There must be a ton of pressure on the brand team and the agency. Below, I will show every John Lewis Christmas ad from over the last decade for you to compare the 2020 ad against. We can now start to see quite a lot of wobbling from year to year. 

This year’s John Lewis Christmas ad reignites the magic of John Lewis, similar to how 2011 introduced the idea of giving. We see a simple meandering storyline with small little ways to give a little love. The moral of the story is we can all do our part, a message we have heard many times in 2020. Yet, they do so without overt Covid talk. 

It will do well, but maybe in a more subtle way than the best John Lewis Christmas ads of the past. Not quite goosebumps, tears or magic. Overall, an 8/10. 

2020 John Lewis Christmas Ad

John Lewis Christmas Ad 2020
Play Video

Past John Lewis Christmas ads

For over a decade, there has been hysteria and anticipation for the John Lewis Christmas ad, but that may be dying down if they fail to deliver. During the era of 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. Obviously, 2020 has been a difficult one for all of retail. 

The John Lewis Christmas ads generate a lot of talk value at the lunch table and in the pubs. Obviously, depending on views, that talk will be fairly mixed. Out of all the John Lewis Christmas ads, my top 3 favourites are 2011, 2010 and 2015. What are your top 3? 

2019: Edgar the dragon

Last year’s John Lewis Christmas ad introduced a cute fire-wielding dragon named Edgar, who kept burning everything with his flames, until they find a better use for his talents. The simple moral of the story is we all have our strengths. It scores high on the cuteness factor, but low on being different enough to breakthrough, and lower on creating magic for the season, with no tears or goosebumps. It is ok, a bit safe, but not be one of the John Lewis Chrstmas ads that are talked about for years. Overall, a solid 7/10. I wish it was higher.

John Lewis Christmas Ad
Play Video

2018: Elton John

This ad is a 9 if it was for an Elton John movie coming out. However, it’s only a 6 for a John Lewis Christmas ad. Yes, it’s enjoyable. Warm. Good story telling. It’s good but not great. Sadly, Elton won’t save Christmas for the John Lewis stores. The idea of “borrowed equity” is where you take something well-known in the marketplace and try to link it to your brand communication. It rarely works. It’s fine to use a song to tell your story, but never let the story get in the way of your brand. In this case, the Elton John equity overwhelms the John Lewis brand, and it overwhelms the power of Christmas. It becomes a great Elton John ad, not a great John Lewis ad. When I see brands use “borrowed equity,” it usually means they find their own brand too dull. Look below at the 2011 John Lewis ad, and tell me if it is boring. Alternatively, did the people at John Lewis get bored with your own brand?

John Lewis Christmas Ad
Play Video

2017: Moz the Monster

This John Lewis Christmas ad was extremely safe. Likely the last few years, John Lewis has bounced around quite a bit, struggling to nail down a spot that delivered on the formula of 2009 to 2012 when they were pure magic. To me, the ad is OK, but not great. It’s cute, but not brilliant. This ad falls a little flat, compared to previous John Lewis ads. It has a monster, which feels like a cross between Monsters Inc. and the Monty the Penguin they did a few years ago. 

John Lewis Christmas Ad
Play Video

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.

Play Video

2015: Man on the Moon

This spot was great on story telling, but it might have gone overboard on sad. I truly loved it. My second favorite John Lewis Christmas 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.

Play Video

2014:

Pretty simple John Lewis Christmas 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.

John Lewis Christmas Ad
Play Video

2013

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.

Play Video

2012: Snowman

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 “familiar-John-Lewis-magic” each year.

Play Video

2011: Counting Down

This is my favorite John Lewis Christmas ad. Tells the story in a very emotional way and communicates the art of giving which is what the season should be about. 

John Lewis Christmas Ad
Play Video

2010: Your song

This John Lewis Christmas ad 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.

 

Play Video

2009:

This John Lewis Christmas 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.

John Lewis Christmas Ad
Play Video

Here are some of the best Christmas ads I have seen

BELOVED
BRANDS

The purpose of the Beloved Brands playbook is to make you a smarter brand leader so your brand can win in the market. 

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution, and be able to analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

We also have a B2B Brands playbook that will help our B2B marketers create brands their customers will love. 

Engage our most popular brand stories

We have the brand templates that will help you

Coca-Cola case study: Ten lessons from the best Coke ads of all time

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Over the past 100 years, Coca-Cola has been the best advertising brand. Sure, Nike and Apple have battled for the best over the past 40 years, but they’d need to get to 2080 before challenging Coke. 

There is a lesson we can see with Coke advertising. Coca-Cola advertising has been remarkably consistent in strategy, yet never duplicates in creativity. With so many Coke ads in the marketplace, Coke needs to stay creatively fresh to surprise and delight consumers to keep their brand loved by so many.

Two hands

Looking at the two hands above, this Coke ad out of France is one of my favorites. It tells such a powerful story of peace and harmony, without any words. It is obviously a Coke ad, yet there is no package shot or logo. Most importantly, when I show this in one of my training sessions or talks, I ask the room, “how many of you would say you love this ad?” And about 30-40% always raise their hands. When I ask how many do not like it, about 10-15% raise their hands. Getting that many consumers to love your ad is phenomenal. It is always important to remember that Advertising can and should be a little bit polarizing. 

First lesson: It is better to be loved by a few than tolerated by many.

Teach the world to sing

Ads that brand link
Play Video

Coke’s “teach the world to sing” is one of the best ads ever. Back in 1971, we had many of the same tensions around the world we feel today. Hippies and college campuses fighting against the Vietnam War, political heroes assassinated, and the cold war in full force. Along comes Coke with an overly wholesome, peace-loving, multi-cultural ad that worked. It was pure magic. As consumers, we wanted what the world Coke was projecting.  

Second lesson: Advertising should not only reflect culture but can lead culture.

Santa Claus

1931 Santa

1950 Santa

1962 Santa

How you imagine Santa likely comes from Haddon Sundblom’s version in the Coca-Cola ads that ran in magazines from the 1930s through the 1960s. His jolly depiction of Santa has stood for generations. Coke continues to use Santa in its advertising, in-store displays, and on its packaging.

Third lesson: As brands build a library of distinctive creative assets, owning the visualization of Santa is one of the best assets to have. 

Mean Joe

Coke Super Bowl ad
Play Video

Coke’s “Mean Joe Greene” ad was the first real Super Bowl ad in 1980. At the time, Mean Joe was near the end of his Hall of Fame career. He earned his nickname. The magic of this ad is the storytelling of this sweet child versus the tired, cranky football player. 

Fourth lesson: Storytelling builds emotion with consumers

"No Labels"

Coca Cola Best Ads
Play Video

Coke takes a chance with a very serious subject: prejudice. During Ramadan of 2015, Coke Middle East created this 3-minute video with six strangers invited to an Iftar in the dark. While the tone might be surprising for Coke, the ending leaves you feeling the same ‘feel-good’ emotions we feel with many Coke ads. Coke is one of the most global brands, and allowing your regional marketers to create something specific to their region is essential. This video received over 20 million viewed on YouTube. 

Fifth lesson: Let your regions tell you what will work with their consumers. 

Can you see a bottle?

I love this outdoor ad, an optical illusion that makes your eye look twice to see if there really is a bottle. Well, it is not. With so many brand fans, it is important to have a little bit of fun with them. 

Sixth lesson: I have always said, “if we are having fun, so is our consumer.”

Polar Bears

Play Video

My marketing career coincided with the Coke Polar Bears. It seems every focus group warmup, we’d ask consumers a few ads they liked, and it was “polar bears, polar bears, polar bears.” 

Sure, the polar bears won’t win a Cannes Award, stretch your mind or change culture. But consumers love the damn polar bears, so give them the polar bears.  

Seventh lesson: Don’t overthink what consumers already tell you they love.

Coca Cola in Saint Mark's Square, Venice, 1960

If you have been to Saint Mark’s Square in Venice, you likely know there are a ton of pigeons. The creativity of a mind that thinks to spread grains for pigeons in the shape of Coca Cola is beyond incredible.

Eighth lesson: Foster an environment that rewards creativity, and your most creative people will shock you with what they are capable of doing.

Share a Coke

When I first saw Coke bottles’ names, my immediate reaction was to think of the strained logistics of forecasting.  I missed out on how big the idea could be. Then I found myself buying a bottle with my kid’s name on it. I learned to love this idea. 

Ninth lesson: Take a chance on something creative, even if it is hard to do.

In-store displays

Over the years, I always felt Coke and Gillette were the best in building in-store displays. Look at the amazing creativity in making the polar bear display to match up to the advertising or the heart for Valentine’s Day. 

Tenth lesson: Let everyone who works on the brand share in delivering the creativity of the brand. 

Consistency in execution is driven with understanding the benefit clusters you can win

At Beloved Brands, our brand positioning process uses a functional benefit cheat sheet and an emotional benefit cheat sheet. We encourage brands to look to 3 functional zones and 3 emotional zones. Then add words around to create benefit clusters. Have a look at what we see Coke’s clusters. As long as they stay in that space, they should approve the execution. This enables your creative people to stay on strategy, yet have room to maneuver. 

You can click on either cheat sheet to get a close-up look. 

  • With the functional benefits, Coke should focus on sensory appeal, staying connected and the experiences around Coke. We classify these three as the social and sense of belonging rational benefits. 
  • With the emotional benefits, Coke should focus on feeling liked, free or getting noticed. We see these benefits most closely linked with self-expression. 

To read more about our brand positioning process:

Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips

Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. 

  • We will challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy. 
  • Our process for defining your brand positioning will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see your brand. 
  • We will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow. Make sure all stakeholders know precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success. 
  • We will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work. 
  • You will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review. 

Over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management. 

Get our Brand Toolkit

  • Our most comprehensive package includes over 100 PowerPoint slides for a brand plan presentation, brand plan on-a-page, brand strategy roadmap, business review, brand positioning presentation, creative brief, mini brief, brand concept, brand credo, and brand story
  • We provide formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand.

Build your marketing skills with our post on how to define your Brand Positioning

One of the most important skills marketers need to know is the fundamentals of creating a brand positioning that will set up your brand to win in the marketplace. Read our step-by-step process to learn how to define your brand with a balance of functional benefits and emotional benefits. The ideal brand positioning matches what consumers want with what your brand does best.

Nike’s “You can’t stop us” is a masterclass in advertising

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

As we crave big, bold, beautiful work, Nike’s You can’t stop us campaign continues to inspire consumers, and hopefully, other advertisers.
The ad includes the richness in storytelling. First, the emotion of reaching beyond what we ever thought possible. Next, the editing is perfect. Finally, the recognition of our favorite athletes mixed in with real-world people accomplishing their greatness.
While everyone else is letting AI hound and annoy consumers into buying their products, Nike and Apple are shining the brightest with videos that give us chills and goosebumps. We need more great advertising work.

Nike's You can't stop us

best Nike ads
Play Video

I love the split-screen technique with 36 different pairings. With you can’t stop us, Nike researched over 4,000 different video options to narrow it down to the perfect fittings. Above all, the ad delivers on Nike’s stated purpose is to unite the world through sport to create a healthy planet, active communities, and an equal playing field for all. Nike doesn’t want to let closed gyms or empty stadiums hold us back, and is showcasing the many ways that athletes continue to push forward.

Similarly, the Nike’s You can’t stop us campaign builds on Nike’s comeback story ad from a few months ago. That ad linked famous comebacks in sports to what we are going through with the Coronavirus. 

Nike Ad
Play Video

Other Nike stories you might like

Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips

Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. 

With Beloved Brands, we want to challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy. Our process for defining your brand positioning will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see your brand. 

We will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow and knows precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success. 

We will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work. 

You will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review. 

Over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management. 

Build your marketing skills with our post on How to write a Brand Concept

One of the most important skills marketers need to know is the fundamentals of writing a brand concept. Read our step-by-step process for how to create a brand concept that brings your brand to life. Learn how to lay out the brand concept with the brand idea, consumer insights, main message, support points and call-to-action. 

New John Lewis Christmas ad feels safe, cute and “ok”

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Every year over the last decade, John Lewis has released the Christmas TV ad that defines the bar for what other British brands must exceed. There must be a ton of pressure on the brand team and the agency. Below, I will show every John Lewis ad over the last decade for you to compare the 2019 ad against. Moreover, we can now start to see quite a lot of wobbling from year to year. This year’s spot introduces a cute fire-wielding dragon named Edgar, who keeps burning everything with his flames, until they find a better use for his talents. The simple moral of the story is we all have our strengths. It scores high on the cuteness factor, but low on being different enough to breakthrough, and lower on creating magic for the season, with no tears or goosebumps. It will do well, but not be one of the John Lewis ads that are talked about for years. Overall, a solid 7/10. I wish it was higher.

The 2019 John Lewis Christmas Ad

Scoring the 2019 John Lewis Christmas ad

ATTENTION

  • In year 10 of Christmas ads, any John Lewis Christmas spot will grab some attention. This year’s version will be moderate at best.

BRAND LINK

  • We’ve seen this type of spot from John Lewis with Moz in 2017, the penguin in 2014, and the bear in 2013. Being around unpredictable is fine, but bouncing doesn’t build assets to be used in the future.

COMMUNICATION

  • A very simple fable with a simple message of we all have our strengths is ok, feels a lot lighter than other years for John Lewis.

STICKINESS

  • High on cute, low on stickiness. Nothing overly emotional to make this a memorable John Lewis spot. Five years from now, it likely won’t be on anyone’s top 3 list.

The best advertising must balance being creatively different and strategically smart.

 

When ads are smart but not different, they get lost in the clutter. It is natural for marketers to tense up when the creative work ends up being “too different.” In all parts of the business, marketers are trained to look for past proof as a sign something will work. However, when it comes to advertising if the ads start too similar to what other brands have already done, then the advertising will be at risk of boring your consumers, so you never stand out enough to capture their attention. Push your comfort with creativity and take a chance to ensure your ad breaks through. 

 

When ads are different but not smart, they will entertain consumers, but do nothing for your brand. Your advertising must be smart enough to trigger the desired consumer response to match your brand strategy.

smart different

All the previous John Lewis Christmas ads

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.

The ads generate a lot of talk value at the lunch table and in the pubs. Obviously, depending on views, that talk will be fairly mixed. Some will say they nailed it; others will say they’ve seen better John Lewis. My favourite is from 2011, 2010 and 2015. What are your top 3? 

2018: Elton John

It’s a 9 if it was for an Elton John movie coming out. It’s a 6 for Christmas. Yes, it’s enjoyable. Warm. Good story telling. It’s good but not great. Sadly, Elton won’t save Christmas for the John Lewis stores. The idea of “borrowed equity” is where you take something well-known in the marketplace and try to link it to your brand communication. It rarely works. It’s fine to use a song to tell your story, but never let the story get in the way of your brand. In this case, the Elton John equity overwhelms the John Lewis brand, and it overwhelms the power of Christmas. It becomes a great Elton John ad, not a great John Lewis ad. When I see brands use “borrowed equity,” it usually means they find their own brand too dull. Look below at the 2011 John Lewis ad, and tell me if it is boring. Alternatively, did the people at John Lewis get bored with your own brand?

2017: Moz the Monster

This spot was extremely safe. Likely the last few years, John Lewis has bounced around quite a bit, struggling to nail down a spot that delivered on the formula of 2009 to 2012 when they were pure magic. 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 feels like a cross between Monsters Inc. and the Monty the Penguin they did a few years ago. 

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:

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

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.

2012: Snowman

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 one is my favorite John Lewis Christmas ad. Tells the story in a very emotional way and communicates the art of giving which is what the season should be about. 

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:

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.

Here are some of the best Christmas ads I have seen

John Lewis is certainly a beloved brand and one of the examples in our book

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

Beloved Brands marketing model

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Kobo and Apple Books

How Taylor Swift uses social media to connect with her fans as “friends”

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Taylor Swift uses her 140 million followers to connect with fans as friends and build a beloved brand. While her social media is definitely handled by a large team of activators, she has a vision, direction, and the final say of her brand portrayal. 

Let’s use our smart strategic thinking model to explain her brilliance in how she has fuelled a decade momentum, while everyone other superstar falls. We’ll use our five elements of strategy to assess what’s happening with Taylor:

  1. Set a vision of what you want for your brand
  2. Invest resources in a strategic program 
  3. Focus on an identified opportunity
  4. Leverage a breakthrough impact 
  5. Performance result that pays back 

Five elements of strategic thinking that explain Taylor Swift's momentum plan.

1. Set a vision of what you want

  • Every pop star wants #1 songs and sold-out concerts for as long as possible. Taylor also wants to portray herself as an average small-town girl living a big city celebrity life.

2. Invest resources in a strategic program

  • Taylor’s most loyal fans are young women, 13-27; who are discovering life. She treats her fans as “new friends along for the ride.” And she uses social media to show she’s doing ordinary things in her crazy world. She uses face-to-face events to shock a few fans, making those fans watching feel closer to Taylor.

3. Focus on an identified opportunity

  • She works social media better than anyone. She leaves little surprise notes on fans Instagram posts. It could be as small as “that’s cute” or full-blown advice (see right). Her writing style is highly personal as though it’s from one friend to another. Imagine the impact when a teenager realizes someone with 100 followers was on their page. Taylor uses face-to-face drop-ins to randomly show up at the most personal moments in a fans life. She randomly attended a fan’s wedding, hugging everyone and talking with ease among her “friends.” She created“SwiftMas,” where they studied the social media pages of individual fans to give them bespoke gifts and a hand-written note—just like a friend would do. She visited one long-term fan with gifts for her son, spending 2 hours playing with her son, as though she were a good friend.

4. Leverage a breakthrough market impact

  • With each program, Taylor comes off as open, authentic, and genuine, who loves connecting with her fans. In a cluttered world of social media, her perfect image remains the “normal girl doing normal things anyone might do.” Her image has allowed her to overcome any natural pain points a celebrity goes through. She’s had many bad personal relationships. What would a normal girl do when she breaks up? Write a song about what a jerk each guy was. She took on Apple over low royalty payments; Apple backed down, and then Taylor did an Apple TV ad. Taylor pulls off everything with ease her squeaky clean image allows her to do. 

5. Performance result that pays back

  • Taylor is beloved by her fans, keeping her momentum going for over a decade. With sold-out concerts, #1 hits, and many Grammy awards. Her fans (friends) think they know her. Maintaining a considerable following makes it easy to create hype around albums or concert tours.  

Examples how Taylor has surprised her fans

How to write smart strategic objective statements to build a plan around your situational strategy

Using our model for how to write a smart strategic objective statement, let’s look at how the four elements – a) strategic program b) focused opportunity c) market impact and the expected performance result – play out:  

Writing a situational strategic objective statement with the a + b + c + d model

A: Build a strategic program that deploys one of your key resources (financial, people, time or partnerships) against the situation.
B: Find a focused opportunity to enhance or fix one area of your brand, including your brand positioning, advertising, media, innovation, claims, retail, consumer experience or organizational culture. You could also look at pricing, costs, investment decisions or product lineup.
C: Achieve a market impact that directly addresses the brand situation, one of: keep the momentum going, fix it, realignment or a start-up situation.  
D: Achieve a performance result that puts the brand in a better position for the future, either driving one of the eight power drivers or one of the eight profit drivers. 

Examples of writing situational strategic objective statements for Taylor Swift’s continuing to drive momentum plan

Use intimacy of a social media to get closer to fans (a) using well-placed social media comments and face-to-face surprise events (b) to build a core base of loyal brand lovers that help maintain her momentum (c) and drive higher album and concert sales (d).

Invest time in building deeper, and more meaningful songwriting (a) that repositions Taylor as a more mature “indie artist” (b) which will realign her image (c) to maintain a tight bond with her most loyal fans, as Taylor and her fans get older together (d).

The Taylor Swift brand plan

Vision: 

  • Recording superstar, who is a small-town girl living the big-city celebrity life. 

Goals:

  • #1 songs, concert sales, social media followers, video views.

Key issues: 

  1. How do we stay connected with our most cherished fans, who see themselves as friends of Taylor? 
  2. How do we continue Taylor’s star power momentum, as Taylor’s core base of fans moves into their 20s and 30s?

Strategies

  1. Use intimacy of a social media to get closer to fans using well-placed social media comments and face-to-face surprise events to build a core base of loyal brand lovers that help maintain her momentum and drive higher album and concert sales.
  2. Invest time in building deeper, and more meaningful songwriting that repositions Taylor as a more mature “indie artist” which will realign her image to maintain a tight bond with her most loyal fans, as Taylor and her fans get older together.

Tactics: 

Maintain strong following, engage with fans directly on social media, create surprise and delight events, use quick videos to show Taylor’s behind-the-scenes life (small-town girl living a big-city celebrity life), stand up on key issues such as bullying and the rights of artists.

Get our Brand Plans template

  • Our Brand Plan PowerPoint file includes ideal slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • Provides formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand plan.
  • Access to our one-page brand plan and our one-page Brand Strategy Roadmap.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

To purchase our Beloved Brands playbook, click on the icon where you buy your books 

Build your marketing skills with our post on how to create a brand positioning

One of the most important skills marketers need to know is the fundamentals of creating a brand positioning that will set up your brand to win in the marketplace. Read our step-by-step process to learn how to define your brand with a balance of functional benefits and emotional benefits. The ideal brand positioning matches what consumers want with what your brand does best.

Patagonia Case Study: They go against the norms of business

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Patagonia has made some decisions the copycat brands would never have the strength to do

Since 1985, Patagonia has pledged 1% of sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment. They have given away $90 million in cash to grassroots environmental groups making a difference in their local communities. They have encouraged other businesses to join their cause. That’s purpose.

Patagonia has fought President Trump on his views on the environment. This year, they announced they were giving away the Trump tax cut, estimated at $10,000,000, to environmental causes. Ben & Jerry’s also spoke out against Trump. But, I didn’t hear Unilever or Ben & Jerry’s giving the tax dollars away. I get it, it’s not easy. But, that’s purpose.

Don't buy this jacket

A few years ago, they were trying to figure out how to handle Black Friday. They launched a campaign encouraging their consumers not to buy a new Patagonia jacket. Ok, now that’s crazy.

Why? Everything they make takes something from the planet we can’t give back. Each piece of Patagonia clothing, whether or not it’s organic or uses recycled materials, emits several times its weight in greenhouse gases, generates at least another half garment’s worth of scrap, and draws down copious amounts of freshwater now growing scarce everywhere on the planet.

They placed the ad in the New York Times asking people to buy less on Black Friday. Yes, they are in business to make and sell products. Yes, they need to make money, and they are growing, but they want to make sure they address the risks of consumerism and don’t want to show up hypocritical.

Patagonia refuses to sell to Wall Street or Silicon Valley

Last week, it was revealed that Patagonia will no longer sell co-branded fleeces into companies who do no share their purpose of saving the planet. That means no to Wall Street and no to Silicon Valley. The way they get around this is to stay they will only sell to those companies who are willing to give away 1% of their sales. Turning away willing customers, because they don’t share your views: that’s purpose. Below is an online communication where they turned away a bank from using their products. 

Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.

For years, Patagonia has used “We will build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm and use business to inspire” as their mission statement.” This year, they have dialled up their mission to “be in business to save our home planet.” That’s definitively purpose-driven.

Sensing many other brands are trying to copy the way they do purpose, The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, now 81, has taken note and said “Purpose is not a strategy”.

Chouinard went on further to say, “You can’t reverse into a mission and values through marketing. The organisations that are struggling with this are probably the ones that are thinking about marketing first. The role of marketing is to authentically elevate that mission and purpose and engage people in it, but the purpose needs to be the business.”

This environmental stance is embedded into the culture. They have stated that when Patagonia has a job opening, all things being equal, they will hire the person who’s committed to saving the planet no matter what the job is. No other company is that committed to their purpose.

Patagonia believes purpose is not a strategy, and it's certainly not an ad

If you love brand purpose, you should treat brand purpose properly, and where it sits within your brand actually matters.brand purpose

Purpose is NOT a strategy.

And, purpose is NOT an advertising line.

Purpose answers, “Why does your brand exist?” It is the underlying personal motivation for why you do what you do. It gives your brand a soul. Moreover, it should sit very high on your plan. You can’t make up a purpose.

If you were a product-driven razor brand for 50 years, it takes another 50 years to transition to a true purpose-driven brand. Your first audience of your purpose should be your employees, not consumers.

Purpose impacts the values and beliefs of your brand, which then impacts the expected behaviours of all those who work behind the scenes of the brand. Can you see now, how it takes time for it to sink in. One ad, just won’t cut it.

Brand purpose is not a strategy

Don’t be ashamed of your real brand purpose because you likely can’t deliver the fake one you think is cool

Be honest with yourself. If you are Pepsi, what the heck is wrong with making the world smile and dance? Not everyone has to save the world. Authentic means being true to yourself, not just appearing earnest in an ad.

Every brand should have a purpose. Not every brand should use it in their ads. Use purpose if it motivates consumers and is ownable for your brand.

The biggest thing we can learn from Patagonia is we can never be them.

Patagonia is uniquely laser-focused on the environment, not as a way to connect, but as a life-long commitment to why they exist.

Build your marketing skills with our post on how to create a brand positioning

One of the most important skills marketers need to know is the fundamentals of creating a brand positioning that will set up your brand to win in the marketplace. Read our step-by-step process to learn how to define your brand with a balance of functional benefits and emotional benefits. The ideal brand positioning matches what consumers want with what your brand does best.

Beloved Brands is the playbook to keep at your fingertips

Our readers tell us they reach for Beloved Brands a few times each week as a reference toolkit to help them with the day-to-day management of their brand. 

  • We will challenge you with questions that get you to think differently about your brand strategy. 
  • Our process for defining your brand positioning will open your mind to new possibilities for how you see your brand. 
  • We will show you how to write a brand plan that everyone can follow. Make sure all stakeholders know precisely how they can contribute to your brand’s success. 
  • We will show you how to run the creative execution process, show you how to write an inspiring brief, and make decisions to find both smart and breakthrough work. 
  • You will learn new methods to analyze the performance of your brand with a deep-dive business review. 

Over 90% of our Amazon reviews receive five-star ratings, and Beloved Brands has spent numerous weeks as a #1 bestseller in brand management. 

Explore all our brand management templates

The new John Lewis ad with Elton John fails to deliver Christmas

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

The new John Lewis 2018 Christmas advertising is finally out. It was well known the British retailer would be using Elton John, but not many of us knew to what extent. The ad does a great job in showing Elton’s entire life story, moving backward, to see the source of his inspiration for music. It is well done. However, it’s not a Christmas ad. It doesn’t capture the joy of giving. There’s no surprising twist. It’s a celebrity ad, but is it a John Lewis ad?

I’ll give this sir Elton spot a solid 7/10.

It’s a 9 if it was for an Elton John movie coming out. It’s a 6 for Christmas. Yes, it’s enjoyable. Warm. Good storytelling. It’s good but not great. Sadly, Elton won’t save Christmas for the John Lewis stores.

Ugh: Borrowed Equity

The idea of “borrowed equity” is where you take something well-known in the marketplace and try to link it to your brand communication. It rarely works. It’s fine to use a song to tell your story, but never let the story get in the way of your brand. In this case, the Elton John equity overwhelms the John Lewis brand, and it overwhelms the power of Christmas. It becomes a great Elton John ad, not a great John Lewis ad.

When I see brands use “borrowed equity,” it usually means they find their own brand too dull. Look below at the 2011 John Lewis ad, and tell me if it is boring. Alternatively, did the people at John Lewis get bored with your own brand?

This Elton John ad could easily have been used  to announce the merger of John Lewis and Waitrose, and we would have thought “hey, that’s a nice spot.” As for a Christmas ad, this one flops.

The pressure seems to be getting to brands

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.

The ad will generate a lot of talk value at the lunch table and in the pubs. However, that talk will be fairly mixed. Some will say they nailed it; others will say they’ve seen enough of Elton John, and others will say it’s not about Christmas.

Will it work?

What it won’t do is separate John Lewis from the pack this holiday season, nor will it drive consumers into their stores. It fails to communicate on the joy of giving, which John Lewis had nailed so well. It will be memorable for those who love Elton John, who is likely over 50 or 60, but certainly not under 25.

So now the ad team will start working on those scripts for 2019. My advice: watch the 2011 spot and give your consumers a story like that. It’s ok if it looks similar. That’s what people want. Comfort.

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.

 

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Graham Robertson signature

The reasons why Sears went bankrupt

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

SearsToday, Sears declares bankruptcy in the US. It is a very sad day for many of us who grew up circling items in the Sears Christmas catalog. But, it is a day we have seen coming for 20 years. I have a soft spot in my heart for them because my mom worked in the Sears men’s clothing section when I was a teenager. I thought it was a cool job. That’s where I got my suit for my High School graduation. My mom told me “every man needs a good suit.”

I also know of many great people who have worked at Sears over the years. From what I heard, they were extremely frustrated by the poor moves or lack of moves by senior leaders. Too little, too late.

Let’s explore the reasons why Sears died and what you can learn from them for your brand. This is the classic retailer who tried to be everything to everyone. Sears failed because they let Walmart steal their low-price positioning at retail, and then let Amazon steal their catalog shopping model.

Sears lacked a point of difference 

I tell brands all the time: “You have four choices: you can be better, different, cheaper or else not around for long.” I have never met anyone who chooses the fourth option of not around for long, but if you don’t choose one of the first three, then the fourth chooses you.

Like any department store, it is hard to be different. They are all just a collection of goods that someone else has made for them. For decades, Sears was successful in owning the “cheaper” option with their good value, at the lowest price. They likely kept that until the early 1980s.

First, the rapid expansion of Walmart and Costco put the first dagger into Sears by severely undercutting them on price. For comparable items, Sears was a 20-30% price premium.

Trying to be everything to anyone is the recipe for being nothing to everyone.

And then, as consumers moved to the big box stores and outlet malls, each of those individual retailers put another dagger into each and every department Sears owned.

  • Looking for a TV, go to Best Buy.
  • For a home renovation, go to Home Depot.
  • If you need any sporting goods, go to Dick’s.
  • And, for any clothing item, head to the nearest outlet mall.

To find the competitive space in which your brand can win, I introduce a Venn diagram of competitive situations. You will see three circles. The first circle comprises everything your consumer wants or needs. The second circle includes everything your brand does best, including consumer benefits, product features or proven claims. And, finally, the third circle lists what your competitor does best.competitive positioning

Find your brand positioning

Your brand’s winning zone (in green), is the space that matches up “What consumers want” with “What your brand does best.” This space provides you a distinct positioning you can own and defend from attack. Your brand must be able to satisfy the consumer needs better than any other competitor can.

Your brand will not survive by trying to compete in the losing zone (in red), which is the space that matches the consumer needs with “What your competitor does best.” When you play in this space, your competitor will beat you every time.

As markets mature, competitors copy each other. It has become harder to be better with a definitive product win. Many brands have to play in the risky zone (in grey), which is the space where you and your competitor both meet the consumer’s needs in a relative tie.

Using this logic, Sears offered moderate value goods, at a higher price than their competitors. There was no reason to go to Sears. They were in the dumb zone (in blue) for the last 20 years.

Walmart did exactly what Sears did, only better

Walmart used the identical playbook from Sears: well-known brand names at a much lower price than you could get anywhere else. As Walmart grew up through the 1970s and 80s, the focused on being the perfect store for the small towns or rural areas because they offered everything you would need in one place. As Walmart moved into suburbs in the 1980s and 90s, they met face-to-face with Sears.

What did Sears do to fight back? Nothing.

If we go back to the 1970s, I would label Sears as the “Power Player” brand of the retail category. Power Player brands should be the share leader or perceived influential leader of the category. These brands command power over all the stakeholders, including consumers, competitors, and retail channels. power player brands

Regarding positioning, the power player brands own what they are best at and leverage their power in the market to help them own the position where there is a tie with another competitor. Owning both zones helps expand the brand’s presence and power across a bigger market. These brands can also use their exceptional financial situation to invest in innovation to catch up, defend or stay ahead of competitors.

Power player brands must defend their territory by responding to every aggressive competitor’s attacks. They even need to attack themselves by vigilantly watching for internal weaknesses to close any potential leaks before a competitor notices. Power player brands can never become complacent, or they will die.

Sears should have squashed upstart Walmart in 1970 when they only had 38 stores, yet it was obvious that they were onto something. The smart power player brand would have paid Sam Walton $100 million for his stores and signed a do not compete. Within five years, their sales grew 10-fold from $40 million to $350 million, yet Sears still did nothing. That $100 million would look pretty cheap by the mid-1980s when Walmart grew another 40-fold up to $15 billion in sales. Keep going and by 2000, Walmart sales were $220 billion.

Sears failed to attack any competitive move made by Walmart, and they certainly never attacked themselves.

Sears once owned what Amazon now makes billions doing

For decades, Sears delivered catalogs with the widest assortment of products, customers would pick out exactly what they wanted, send in their order through the mail, Sears would send it from a central warehouse to one of their local stores and then the customer would go pick it up at their local Sears store.  I’m sure we are all looking at this model, baffled at how Sears never mastered online retailing. All they needed to do:

  • Put the entire Sears catalog on a website.
  • Let your customers order through the Sears website.
  • Mail it from your central warehouse to the customer’s house.

Not only did Amazon steal this model, they even paved the way with a “books only” model that still allowed Sears the time to launch their full catalog online.

The problem for many leaders is that to be a visionary, you must be able to visualize the future, and then take action. Many leaders of brands about to be replaced by a smarter model for the future resist the future as hard as they can. The leader could actually replicate the brand attacking them, and become the future faster than the brand attacking them. That’s crazy.

Too many of the brands link their brand with the format they deliver. Newspapers think they are in the business of broadsheets, and retailers think of locations. Remember that phrase “location, location, location.” I would rather brands think of the idea they stand for, and adjust the business model to deliver that idea.

Running a brand takes imagination

Just imagine, if in 1975, Sears fought back with all their power and squashed Walmart. It would have worked.

Just imagine, if in 1995, Sears saw the future of online shopping, and moved their entire catalog model to an e-commerce platform.

Without a vision for the future, Sears is now part of our past. 

 

An inspiring letter from Starbucks’ Howard Shultz on race in America

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

Everyone in marketing talks about brand purpose. The role of brand purpose only becomes powerful when are you prepared to make decisions that stand by your purpose. Today’s letter from Howard Shultz is a great example of standing for what you believe in. He speaks very honestly about what he wanted Starbucks to be, where it fell short, and what he sees its role in race relations in America.

When the incidents at the Starbucks in Philadelphia took place, I’m sure it shocked a lot of people. It was wrong. It seemed against the values of Starbucks. I kept thinking how many times I’ve sat in a Starbucks waiting for a friend. It’s only natural not to order, until your friend gets there. Especially, if it is a business meeting. I thought the CEO did a great job in flying across the country to meet face-to-face with the two gentlemen.

Here is the full letter from Howard Shultz to customers of Starbucks

This afternoon Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores and begin a new chapter in our history.

In 1983 I took my first trip to Italy. As I walked the streets of Milan, I saw cafés and espresso bars on every street. When I ventured inside I experienced something powerful: a sense of community and human connection.

I returned home determined to create a similar experience in America—a new “third place” between home and work—and build a different kind of company. I wanted our stores to be comfortable, safe spaces where everyone had the opportunity to enjoy a coffee, sit, read, write, host a meeting, date, debate, discuss or just relax.

Today 100 million customers enter Starbucks® stores each week. In an ever-changing society, we still aspire to be a place where everyone feels welcome.

Sometimes, however, we fall short, disappointing ourselves and all of you.

Recently, a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called the police a few minutes after two black men arrived at a store and sat waiting for a friend. They had not yet purchased anything when the police were called. After police arrived they arrested the two men. The situation was reprehensible and does not represent our company’s mission and enduring values.

After investigating what happened, we determined that insufficient support and training, a company policy that defined customers as paying patrons—versus anyone who enters a store—and bias led to the decision to call the police. Our ceo, Kevin Johnson, met with the two men to express our deepest apologies, reconcile and commit to ongoing actions to reaffirm our guiding principles.

The incident has prompted us to reflect more deeply on all forms of bias, the role of our stores in communities and our responsibility to ensure that nothing like this happens again at Starbucks. The reflection has led to a long-term commitment to reform systemwide policies, while elevating inclusion and equity in all we do.

Today we take another step to ensure we live up to our mission:

FOR SEVERAL HOURS THIS AFTERNOON, STARBUCKS WILL CLOSE STORES AND OFFICES TO DISCUSS HOW TO MAKE STARBUCKS A PLACE WHERE ALL PEOPLE FEEL WELCOME.

What will we be doing? More than 175,000 Starbucks partners (that’s what we call our employees) will be sharing life experiences, hearing from others, listening to experts, reflecting on the realities of bias in our society and talking about how all of us create public spaces where everyone feels like they belong—because they do. This conversation will continue at our company and become part of how we train all of our partners.

Discussing racism and discrimination is not easy, and various people have helped us create a learning experience that we hope will be educational, participatory and make us a better company. We want this to be an open and honest conversation starting with our partners. We will also make the curriculum available to the public.

To our Starbucks partners: I want to thank you for your participation today and for the wonderful work you do every day to make Starbucks a third place for millions of customers.

To our customers: I want to thank you for your patience and support as we renew our promise to make Starbucks what I envisioned it could be nearly 40 years ago—an inclusive gathering place for all.

We’ll see you tomorrow.

With deep respect,

Howard