The John Lewis Christmas Advert (2013): Turning Your Christmas Marketing into an Event

Today saw the ‘launch’ of John Lewis’ Christmas Advert for 2013. You can see the new ad below, if you’ve not yet caught it elsewhere. Take care to have the Kleenex handy.

The John Lewis Christmas ads are something of an oddity in the world of marketing. How many adverts do you know, for instance, that get ‘launched’? Or that, in this instance, get pirated on to YouTube by several people ahead of their official début on the company’s channel? Or manage to get at least two newspapers (here and here) claiming you can watch the ad ‘here first’?

People actively searching out your advert, sharing it to social media, running high-visibility articles on it, all before you’ve paid for a single penny of television space? It sounds like a marketers dream and, of course, it is.

So how did John Lewis get to this point? Certainly it hasn’t been quick or easy for them, they haven’t scrimped on production spend and it didn’t happen overnight. There are though, two key things that they have done really well, that we can all learn from.

Focus on Christmas, not on your brand

At this time of year, we get bombarded by enough marketing messages to spend our yearly allowance of disposable income in one go. The last thing we need is someone telling us we should ‘buy more’ or take advantage of this or that offer. The John Lewis adverts rarely mention or show a product, hardly ever reference a price or an offer and quite often don’t even reveal who the advert is for until the name shows up at the end. They focus on getting you to feel ‘like Christmas’, on making sure that you associate John Lewis with all of the positive feelings, rather than the commercialism. Why do John Lewis want to do this? Well, so you’ll buy more from them, of course.

Be better than everyone else and make marketing an event

Like the Queen’s Christmas Message or your local town’s switching on of the lights, John Lewis have integrated their ads into the popular culture as part of the festive season. How have they done that? Well, partially at least, it’s by believing their own message, even when others didn’t. You rather suspect the first time they sent out a press release promoting their advert they got laughed out of the print room but keep doing it year after year and people start to believe they should be paying attention.

That’s not the whole story though, because the main way John Lewis have made their ad an event is by just making it better than everyone else’s. It is something you would want to watch, a story that, with a few tweaks, you can imagine buying for the children in your family. It’s something of high quality, worthwhile spending your time on. People look at it and search it out each year because they know it will be worth their time to do so.

So, with all of that in mind… how good is your Christmas message this year?

ClientsFirst’s options for Christmas communication are available here for anyone who hasn’t yet sorted out the launch of their own ‘Christmas Marketing Event’. Anyone wishing to produce a John Lewis alike ad is advised to get in touch ASAP!

Sam Turner pictureBy Sam Turner. Sam is ClientsFirst’s Marketing Executive and writes here on topics including; inbound and content marketing, social media, design and e-marketing. He likes all of those things as well as travel, golf and frequent cups of tea. You can find him on , Twitter & LinkedIn.

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