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How John Lewis uses its Christmas ad to engage across sales channels

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It’s fast becoming a key date in the run up to Christmas: the launch of John Lewis’ festive advert. Traditionally a tear-jerking affair, this year’s is no exception, with its tagline appeal to show someone they’re loved this Christmas, and a partnership with Age UK.

But for the modern retailer the significance of the ad from John Lewis , an Elite retailer in Internet Retailing’s IRUK500 research, is more about harnessing sales and communication channels beyond the website and the store. Paul Skeldon considers in this piece how John Lewis has used mobile to strong effect in this year’s ad. Social media has been another key focus, and since the ad went live this morning, the tweets, mentions and shares have been closely monitored.

The new ad, linked to the #onthemoon hashtag, had 16,396 mentions with this hashtag #manonthemoon in the first hour after it launched at 8am today, according to PR and communications agency Hotwire, while Aurora, the singer on the soundtrack, had 4,449 mentions over the same time. Sentiment, it says, is 11% positive, 87% neutral, 2% negative, as people tweet that it is variously ‘adorable’ and has a ‘beautiful message’. Where sentiment is negative, says the agency, is “largely due to people tweeting that they are crying because of the advert.”

Last year, says Hotwire, #montythepenguin had 97,257 mentions over 24 hours on the day of its launch, while #bearandhare had 6,826 mentions over 24 hours when it was launched back in 2013.

But, it notes, “In 2011 & 2012 the musicians received more mentions that the ads themselves. There is no doubt the music is still extremely powerful, but the ads themselves are now telling much more of a unique story that gets people talking more than they do about the track.”

Also monitoring the reaction was eDigitalResearch. Its chief product officer, Nada Gillard, said: “The power of social is growing – brands can quickly and easily reach large and often targeted audiences through social media channels. Releasing this year’s campaign on Twitter, rather than during a big TV spot, has generated a huge amount of buzz and brand awareness for John Lewis.”

Commenting on the accompanying mobile app, Peter Veash, chief executive of The BIO Agency, said:

“This time John Lewis is heavily investing in the digital side of the campaign with an augmented reality 3D app that will definitely engage consumers. Last year like-for-like sales across the retailer grew by 4.8% for the five weeks to December 27 but in stores they were about 1% lower. Using technology to engage consumers in-store and online will help closing that gap. The integration of exciting digital assets might be a small step for John Lewis but it’s a giant leap for its digital transformation.”

• Seven hours after the John Lewis ad launched, a tribute came from School of Communication Arts students, commissioned by to replicate the ad for a total budget of £700. The winning film came from SCA students Ben Golding and Chloe Cordon and can be seen on the MyVoucherCodes site here:

MyVoucherCodes general manager Chris Reilly said: “While John Lewis are never knowingly undersold, our speciality is knowingly underselling, so it made sense to produce a Christmas advert without the big spend – reflecting the behaviour of the savvy shoppers who visit our site.

“Watching the students in action has been really inspiring and, despite fears at the start of the day we might be looking at a turkey, we strongly believe we’ve produced a cracker!”

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