John Lewis’ 2013 Christmas ad proves to be a media hit (includes video)

By on Friday, November 8, 2013

John Lewis’ cutesy Christmas ads are now, if not fast becoming, a festive tradition.

Note: if you want to ignore my prose and just watch the bloody thing, here you go. Public consensus already seems to be entirely positive (but for Matt Muir) and the YouTube video is currently stuck on the famous 301+:

In recent years, the ads, each overlaid with a daintily-sung cover track, have proved to be as much a media coverage opportunity for the retailer as a straight-forward annual TV spot (albeit this year, a £7m spot, taking up a whole ad break during Saturday night’s X Factor, according to this gushing Mail piece).

To promote the stop-frame animated ad this year, the Mirror headline reads ‘Watch it here first…’, whilst John Lewis chose to promote its ‘premier’ tweet of ‘The Bear and the Hare’ a couple of hours ago.

john lewis 2013 ad christmas

An interesting (to sad-acts like me) point to note is that of the online coverage the ad has received by the national online press, each I’ve seen has gone with its own player, allowing them to run pre-roll ads. Whilst this means there’ll potentially be millions of public views John Lewis misses out on, it ensures the press are happy to gush as above and share like nobody’s business, because they’ll reap cashmoney from advertisers in full knowledge the public is now accustomed to watching and sharing each year’s ad.

For example, I just watched the ad on the Mail, before which a 30 second spot for competitor Debenhams played:

john lewis debenhams pre roll mail

It’ll also be interesting to see if there’s a wider PR campaign supporting the ads this year, as with 2012 when the snowman toured the UK.

Amateur analysis done.

John Lewis didn’t advertise on TV until 2007 meaning there aren’t that many to sift through, so in the name of providing all the background you might want as a reader, here’s every ad since then. You’re welcome.

2007 – ‘Shadows’

The soundtrack is Aubade/Morning Serenade from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (a quick Google search tells me), making this the only Christmas ad without an accompanying cover.

2008 – featuring a cover of The Beatles’ ‘From Me to You’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yjp7VkoGBc

2009 – featuring a cover of Guns N’ Roses ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ by Taken By Trees

2010 – featuring a cover of Elton John’s ‘Your Song, by Ellie Goulding. Just fewer than a million views.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpV-xagkTDU

2011 – featuring a cover of The Smiths’ ‘Please, please, please’ by Slow Moving Millie. The first time a sickly-sweet story was introduced rather than focusing on the products themselves, which, when accompanied by its now tried and tested female vocals, seemed to strike the right balance. Christmas 2011 will always remind me of Headintheboxgate. The video on John Lewis’ YouTube channel has had 5.2m views, making it the most popular so far – but also and as touched on above, this might be accounting for media that used their own video players for the 2012 spot foreseeing its likely popularity.

2012 – ‘The Journey’, featuring a cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Power of Love’ by Gabrielle Aplin. Again with the sugary tale, again with the haunting female vocals. Approximately 3.5m views on John Lewis’ channel.

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