John Lewis Christmas ad trounces rivals for online buzz

John Lewis kicked off its assault on the Christmas ad market today (8 November) and so far reaction is overwhelmingly positive. 

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“The Hare and the Bear” debuted online this morning, with John Lewis teasing the ad on both its Facebook and Twitter accounts. It is the first ad from the retailer to feature animation and features Lily Allen signing Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know”.

Figures from YouGov’s social media analysis tool, SoMA, show that 58 per cent of UK Twitter users have seen a mention of John Lewis since the ad launched. Among Facebook users that is 9 per cent, a number that YouGov says is “very high” for the social network.

By comparison, Marks & Spencer’s advert, which was released online on 4 November, was seen by 15 per cent of UK Twitter users and 1 per cent of Facebook’s. Debenhams’ campaign saw no uplift on social media following its TV debut on 3 November.

So far, reaction to John Lewis’ campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. Among Twitter users, 52 per cent of comments have been positive, 28 per cent neutral and 20 per cent negative.

On Facebook, public posts have been even more in favour of John Lewis, with 79 per cent positive, 14 per cent neutral and 7 per cent negative.

John Lewis has become the standard bearer at Christmas, in part due to their sheer ambition. Teaser ads with the hashtag #sleepingbear were launched on ITV and people commented on Twitter to guess the identity of the brand behind the shorts, with most guessing either John Lewis or Coca-Cola.

This year there is also a mini forest on the South Bank that projected teasers before the online launch and will show the full ad at the same time as the TV debut during the X Factor on Saturday (9 November). That TV debut in itself is a first, with John Lewis taking over a full ad break that required rescheduling of the X Factor show and a sign off from Simon Cowell.

John Lewis might eschew the product-based advertising that its high street rivals use, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t building up an industry around its Christmas ads. It is selling bear and hare soft toys, as well as the alarm clock that takes the starring role as the “perfect gift”.

Customers can also create a digital card featuring characters from the ad and download an interactive e-book featuring games and touch-to-activate features. As in previous years, the single by Allen will be available for download, with John Lewis hoping to emulate the success of previous tracks, which have gone to number one on the charts.

In store, John Lewis is offering photo opportunities with bear and hare and in 11 stores erecting a cave for children to visit.

Craig Inglis, John Lewis’s marketing director, speaking at an event to launch the ad in London, admitted that the firm had previously missed an opportunity with merchandise, but that this year things would be different.

“Our ads aren’t about products, they’re about telling a story. But this year we are making a better effort to offer merchandise to support the ads,” he added.

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