Here in the UK, the Christmas John Lewis ad has become something of an annual tradition, right up there with Secret Santa and the wearing of Christmas jumpers. Every year the nation awaits its much-anticipated unveiling, poised to give their opinion on whether or not it has trounced the previous year. Last year, the brand’s tear-jerking ‘The Man on the Moon’ centred around the loneliness faced by the elderly at Christmas and was voted as ‘too sad’ by many.
This year’s offering is of course the heart-warming story of a little girl whose parents buy her a trampoline for Christmas, told through the eyes of the family dog, Buster, who watches in envy while a number of woodland animals bounce on it in the garden. This is all whilst the true recipient is still fast asleep! However when morning comes with a little freedom, he quickly throws caution to the wind and has a good go himself.
Some claim that the missing reference to Father Christmas means this year’s offering lacks the human touch. However, having clocked up an impressive number of mentions across social media since 4 November and cited overall as the most engaging Christmas marketing campaign out of a list of 15 retailers, I imagine the store’s response would be along the lines of… Go jump!
The reality is that the success of a Christmas ad has a shelf life far beyond the six-week frantic run-up to Christmas. The tills are still ringing long after the decorations have come down. Return on investment on ads is not necessarily measured only in terms of short-term sales and profits, but also by how much of a buzz the advertising can generate and the longer term impact this has on the brand. John Lewis estimates that since 2012, its sales have increased more than 35 per cent thanks to the success of its Christmas advertising, with research showing that the department store managed a profit of £24 for every £1 spent on its Christmas ad campaign in 2014.
And of course, it’s not just about sales. Consumer behaviour is changing, and along with it are the ways in which retailers are engaging with consumers. As well as ensuring their websites are visible, top retailers make their brand available offline in a way that can ultimately boost online sales performance.
This is how John Lewis reaches well beyond its relatively small estate of 46 stores. Creating a buzz on social media translates to high consumer engagement – which is surely at the top of the Christmas list of every brand going.
John Lewis is well known for utilising its social media platforms in its ad campaigns and always launches it films first on Twitter. With some 328.5k followers on Twitter and 1,138,567 on Facebook, even without the TV ad they’re reaching mammoth audiences. Uploaded to YouTube on November 10, 2016, Buster had generated 16.7M views; 13.8M in the first 3 days alone. Which goes a way to explain why, just 24 hours after launch, John Lewis’ bouncing dog had attracted three times more YouTube and Facebook views than last year – 8.8 million views versus 28.5 million.
This year, John Lewis also added “Discover Buster’s Garden in 360” which enables viewers to look around and explore the 360 degree world of #BusterTheBoxer and his friends on their mobile, tablet or desktop devices. It partnered with Snapchat to create a bespoke Snapchat lens that transforms users into Buster the Dog. It’s also inviting people to come and play with Buster and his friends and explore their garden through an immersive virtual reality experience with Oculus Rift technology in their London stores.
Ads aside then, the key to the retailer’s success has to be that John Lewis embraces as many social media platforms as it possibly can, creating valuable brand engagement, reaching enormous audiences and boosting sales – all of which means it won’t just be the store’s consumers who have a smile on their face this Christmas.
Let us know what you think of this year’s ad……
Director and co-founder, Firework PR