In 2009 John Lewis radically changed their approach to their Christmas ads. The new approach emphasised storytelling and emotion, and has since made their ads the most anticipated Christmas commercials in the UK. What led to their decision to change their approach? And – which ad is best?
Back in 2009, the UK – and the world – was going through the financial crash and consumer confidence was at record lows. The collapse of the housing market that caused the crash impacted retailers who focused on home-related products. Sales growth was almost non-existent and plenty of retailers had to close. John Lewis, too, suffered and had to make important changes to survive. Those changes began with investing in their website and refurbishing stores–but brand perceptions indicated that whilst the John Lewis brand was respected, it wasn’t beloved, and it was considered an expensive place for functional purchases.
John Lewis’ communication strategy underpinned an emotional approach, that focused on creating positive emotional memories to drive positive business results. To position themselves as the home of thoughtful giving, they chose to celebrate those who put more care into what they choose and how thoughtful gifts were wrapped & presented.
For me, it was in 2011 when the ads were taken up a notch. They moved away from telling lots of people’s stories of giving to following a young boy who is excited for Christmas. Watch the making of the ad here.
This is still my favourite ad, but here at Orange Towers, there has been much debate. I took a recent poll among our desk jockeys and found that we most enjoyed the John Lewis ad ‘The Bear and the Hare’, with 32% of votes. BUT–there are only 24 of us, so I think I need to open the question up a little wider!
Here are the ads (see below!). Which one is your favourite? Cast your vote below and we’ll follow up with results later this month.