John Lewis Partnership to review ad strategy with search for new creative agency

Creative agency Adam&eveDDB has rejected the opportunity to repitch, having been a driving force behind the retailer’s iconic Christmas ad campaigns for over a decade.

John LewisThe John Lewis Partnership looks set to review its advertising strategy, including its famous Christmas campaigns, as its 14-year relationship with creative agency adam&eveDDB comes to an end.

The business is reassessing its creative accounts and opening up an agency pitch process, the first since Adam&eveDDB won the accounts for both John Lewis and Waitrose in 2009 and 2015, respectively. The agency has declined the invitation to repitch, with CEO Tammy Einav saying she is “saddened” by the Partnership’s decision to call for a review.

Over the course of the long relationship between the two businesses, John Lewis has come to be seen as the face of Christmas marketing with its emotionally evocative and eagerly awaited annual ad campaigns. Last year’s ‘The Beginner’ (watch below) was lauded by many within the industry, despite ranking below many of its rivals in its potential to drive long-term effectiveness.

Other famous John Lewis Christmas ads from the last 14 years include 2011’s ‘The Long Wait’, 2015’s ‘Man on the Moon’ and 2019’s joint Christmas campaign with Waitrose, ‘Excitable Edgar’.

Acknowledging the “prominent role” adam&eveDDB has played in John Lewis’s and Waitrose’s advertising, pan-partnership and John Lewis customer director Charlotte Lock says it is nevertheless “important” the company reviews its supplier relationships.

The launch of Waitrose’s new brand promise, ‘Food to Feel Good About’, highlighted the agency’s “understanding” of the grocer’s customers and its values, Waitrose customer director Nathan Ansell adds.

“[Adam&eveDDB] have been an influential creative and strategic partner for the Partnership, however, after many years without reviewing our agency support we believe it is the right time to assess,” he says.

The pitch process will run from this month onwards, with support from agency selection specialist Oystercatchers. An appointment is expected to be made in late spring.

The review doesn’t include the John Lewis Partnership’s media agency account, which Manning Gottlieb (MG OMD) retained after review last year, having held the account since 2006.

The news comes following a shake up to the business’s marketing leadership, as former John Lewis customer director Claire Pointon stepped down earlier this month after three years in the role. The position was subsequently merged with the pan-partnership customer director role and taken over by Lock.

In addition, Ansell joined the business last month following the departure of former Waitrose customer director Martin George to pursue a non-executive roles.

The recent changes at the Partnership follow last year’s major shift in brand strategy for John Lewis, when the retailer replaced its long-standing brand promise ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ with new promise ‘For all life’s moments’.