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Once Upon A Time At Christmas… The John Lewis Formula

Advertising has been an increasingly important aspect in modern day business with companies spending millions on advertising campaigns. Every now and then, an advertising campaign can capture the imagination of the people watching which helps to increase the profile of a brand substantially. In the UK, one such example is that of the John Lewis Christmas advertisement. From 2007 onwards, John Lewis has evolved its Christmas adverts into something of a Christmas tradition. Every year, people anticipate the release of the new advert speculating on what it may contain with written articles, general conversation and social media. John Lewis has managed to do this by having some form of charming story or character which encapsulates the company’s interpretation of the Christmas spirit.
The Christmas advert is no new feature of Christmas with Coca-Cola being almost synonymous with the festive period. Coca–Cola is solely responsible for the visual of Santa Claus as we know it. Before Coca-Cola’s version of Santa Claus, Santa was depicted in a number of different ways but there was no real universally accepted version. Coca-Cola’s relationship with Christmas didn’t end there and the company used its relationship with Christmas to great effect with its famous “Christmas Caravan” advertising campaign which has remained on television for over 20 years. Other companies have also released Christmas oriented adverts in the run up to Christmas and some of them have also used the same advert for a number of years to use nostalgia and familiarity to help build brand awareness.
From 2007, John Lewis made a return to the Christmas advertising scene after a three year hiatus. We have seen an evolution of the advert which has been almost finely tuned through the years to achieve maximum effect. A focus shift from direct product promotion to more of an individual storyline has been seen, which remains the focus of the whole advertisement. To assist with said storylines is normally an acoustic covered version of a popular song which helps to set a melancholy tone and encourages an emotional feel. In doing this, the adverts have taken on a bigger meaning and almost explore the different aspects of Christmas that are important to some. Things such as giving, family, friendship and charity have all featured within a John Lewis Christmas advert at some point. Using emotion to advertise the brand of John Lewis has been a very good way for the company to be on the minds of the general public when the festive period comes around. This in turn translates into revenues for John Lewis around the festive period.
The adverts legacy has been nothing but positive in the main with revenues continuing to grow year on year with the exception of 2010. The Christmas period is the busiest time of the year for the department store and last years ‘Man On The Moon’ advert was one of the contributing factors to the reason as to why Christmas sales jumped by 5.1% over the previous year. It has also been influential in other companies shifting their focus from product driven advertisements for the more emotional style of advert. In the last few years, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has used a more emotional non product driven advert to promote at Christmas. The First World War truce on Christmas Day and Mog the Cat have been used to tell a story and to display a deeper meaning to Christmas other than buying and receiving gifts.
With Christmas just around the corner, we will see the release of the new John Lewis advert as well as other companies wishing to sell their products to the British public. John Lewis has used social media to great effect with hash tags being displayed on adverts, making John Lewis part of a conversation online. On its Twitter page, John Lewis has already sent tweets teasing the release of the new advert. The Christmas advertising campaign has been a huge success story for the brand and has changed the landscape for companies wishing to advertise at Christmas.
It shows that a company doesn’t need to be overly explicit with its products and that embracing a time of the year that most people love and cherish is all that is needed to earn a place in people’s hearts…. and wallets.