Tears and trending – John Lewis does it again

Never mind the countdown to Christmas, this week it’s been all about the countdown to the John Lewis tv advert.  Anticipation of the JL festive ad has become almost a tradition in itself, and its online launch has resulted in a flurry of social media love, with the topic trending worldwide on Twitter: #jlxmastvad.

I must admit I was a little anxious. Would it deliver?  Having seen the Marks and Spencer Christmas offering earlier in the week I knew how reputation, budget, and anticipation need not always determine a winning formula.

Marks and Spencer:  ‘May all your Christmas dreams come true’

I had been hoping that Marks and Spencer’s sponsorship of X Factor would help create something spectacular to reinvigorate their lacklustre campaigns of recent times (see my Not just an ad post).  To my mind, however, the M&S seasonal fayre is contrived and ostentatious.  With a splash too much sparkle (bah humbug) and an emphasis on the receiving rather than the giving (the strapline ‘May all your Christmas dreams come true’ reflect the images) I find it all just a little too tacky.

That said, I’m not an X Factor fan, and as an existing M&S shopper I’m probably not current target market (I’m guessing the idea behind the link-up is to communicate brand messages to a new audience). Quite possibly the advert will become well loved by X Factor faithfuls.

So, back to John Lewis and its contribution to the 2011 festive tv season.  Would it meet such high standards as have been set in previous years and to which we have become accustomed?  Plot, story, a great soundtrack and a connection with human emotion are all themes of recent John Lewis adverts and high standards have been set.

Here it is:

John Lewis’: ‘For gifts you can’t wait to give’

There’s a beautiful soundtrack (The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want) sung by relatively little-known Slow Moving Millie (instantly recognisable as a John Lewis soundtrack), a lovable, mischievous young boy, a typical family setting and a story with a genius twist. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

Gorgeous. Delicate. Classy. Understated elegance and oozing seasonal sentimentality with a positive message. John Lewis (and its ad agency, Adam and Eve) ‘get’ human emotion, and how to really connect with people – as evidenced by the comments littered across Twitter on how the advert has made people shed a tear or two.  Tears and trending: surely that’s the sign of success?

Notably, the advert has been launched online today (11.11.11) ahead of its on-air screening during Saturday night’s prime time X Factor slot.  Whether or not its high street rival Marks and Spencer’s sponsorship of the reality tv show had any impact on John Lewis’s choice of launch slot, it will be interesting to see how viewers will compare and contrast the two adverts.

The contrast is stark and I know which one I prefer.


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