Not just an ad

The other day an email landed in my inbox.  John Lewis apparently wanted me to know that they had a new tv ad, and if I could stand the anticipation no longer, I could preview it online.

My immediate thought was to hit delete (‘why on earth would I want to preview an ad? It’s an ad’).  And then it struck me. This was not just an ad. This was a John Lewis ad.

John Lewis is a good old reliable British brand with personality. John Lewis has heritage. It has friendly, expert partners (not staff) and sells good quality products – with the familiar price promise ‘never knowingly undersold’. Simply put, you can trust John Lewis.

You can also trust John Lewis to create beautiful, clever, and memorable tv adverts that make you smile. Take the Christmas 2010 advert, which used a series of Christmas present related scenes and focused on the people and relationships behind them. Ellie Goulding’s version of Your Song provided the perfect background track – both in terms of lyrics and melody.

Enough said.

So, what about the current advert?

Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, it’s clever and yes, it makes you smile.  With the strapline, ‘We’ve always been there for the latest thing’, and with the assistance (yet again) of some deftly selected music, we are shown how John Lewis has brought cutting edge technology to British people over the years.  The underlying message, of course, is that John Lewis is as much a part of our lives as the technology brands themselves. Take a look.

Like their adverts, John Lewis has a story.

To my mind, however, evidence of the brand’s marketing brilliance lies not only in the script writing, selection of soundtracks, and understanding of human emotion, but also in its expert scheduling.

Featured (yes) during the popular Saturday night X Factor slot, it was guaranteed to capture a large audience.  Figures show 6.2 million viewers watched the show.  Great, you might think, but standing out in the cluttered X Factor advertising space requires something memorable; something that makes viewers sit up and take note. Something that is an event in itself.

Mission accomplished John Lewis. Personality, heritage and marketing brilliance to boot.

The department store’s high street rival, Marks and Spencer has recently announced a sponsorship deal with the hit show. M&S has linked up as X Factor’s Official Fashion Partner, and is set to provide (amongst other things) branded web content, bespoke footage and ticket competitions.  It looks likely that this deal will gather momentum when the live shows air from October onwards.

Since its ‘Not just’ ads ran their course back in 2008, M&S’ advertising has (to my mind) been decidedly lacklustre.  Here’s hoping that the X Factor partnership will help reignite some marketing brilliance for the (other) Great British brand that is Marks and Spencer.

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4 responses to “Not just an ad

  1. Pingback: Tears and trending – John Lewis does it again « Jo Blogs·

  2. Pingback: Opinion piece on attribution in digital media advertising | Nathan Levi·

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