Lord Sugar on the John Lewis Christmas ad: ‘It didn’t make me cry’

Festival of Marketing 2015: Lord Sugar believes marketers need to stick to the basics and make ads that sell products, instead of creating “a nice feeling” around a brand.

Speaking at the Festival of Marketing today (11 November) Lord Sugar was outspoken as ever, telling the crowd that he still admires Apple as they “haven’t been sucked into stupid advertising”.

“Their current advertising is like what we used to do 40 years ago. The latest iPhone 6s ad talks about how to use it, the features that are available on it and where you can get – that’s what advertising is all about,” he said.

However, he was not as complimentary about the latest John Lewis Christmas ad.

“If I look at John Lewis’ advert at the moment – I think to myself: why? It didn’t make me cry. I think the only person who cried was the one who had to pay for it,” he said.

John Lewis' Christmas ad for 2015 (pictured) was lost on Lord Sugar
The message behind John Lewis’ Christmas ad (pictured) was lost on Lord Sugar.

Lord Sugar said that while the campaign cost around £7m to make, with around £1m going on creating the ad and a further £6m on media, the ad’s overall message was lost on him.

“The message at the end of the day is ‘we’re just nice people at John Lewis’. That’s it. It’s not about the products people can buy and what people are spending their money on, even though that’s the bottom line,” he said.

“John Lewis wants your money, there’s no question of it. But I might be wrong about ads creating this wonderful feeling about John Lewis.”

When it comes to the type of ads that Lord Sugar does take interest in, he likes to keep it simple.

“Adverts that have made me laugh are quite interesting, but it’s adverts that make you buy things that are more important. The meerkat ad [for Comparethemarket] drives me round the raving bend. I just don’t get it,” he added.

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