John Lewis’s Craig Inglis on creating effective content: ‘Be authentic, look for big ideas and don’t rely on KPIs’’

John Lewis’s marketing director Craig Inglis puts great stock in the potential power of content, spending £5m a year on publications and earning considerable equity from the sharing of its celebrated Christmas campaigns. His key advice on content is simple, however: “be authentic”.

John Lewis’ Christmas campaign featuring Monty the Penguin helping push up sales

Speaking on an Advertising Week Europe panel hosted by The Marketing Society earlier today (26 March) he added: “Too many brands are doing content because it’s the zeitgeist – it’s just marketing. Don’t get caught up in stuff and overplay it. You have to engage customers in the right way.”

Inglis said content had played a role in lifting perception of John Lewis over the last 5 years, taking it on a journey from a brand that people trusted towards a brand that people had an emotional relationship with.

“Big ideas” such as the On Blackheath music festival, something “true to the brand”, was offered as an example, an event he said offered the right formula of “music, family and food”.

He added: “Big powerful ideas that are true to your brand will get cut through, people will see through it otherwise”.

Responding to a question about justifying investment in content, he said it should be “tough” to justify spending to partners but that ROI cannot be demonstrated by one single ,measurement. The retailer uses a mix of engagement, econometrics and other qualitative and quantitative measures depending on the type of content produced.

“There is no one measure. Leaps of faith are involved too. Make no judgements on a single measure. It’s about what’s right for the brand. Don’t be driven by linear KPIs. KPIs are not going to give you a platform to take a risk. You need to get people aligned to allow you to take those risks. “

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