What can we learn from the John Lewis Advert?

Marketing magicians John Lewis have done it again! While most adverts have us escaping the room for a quick wee or a chance to boil the kettle, muting the TV to check our Instagram feed or simply listening to Dad rant about how much he hates adverts, John Lewis have managed something rather remarkable. They have us eagerly awaiting their annual advert, year on year. Admit it, you’ve been on tender hooks ever since Bonfire night, the last big occasion holding us back from going all-out Christmas coo-coo. Will there be cute animals? Will I cry again? How much more emotion can they possibly emote???

Seriously though, a HUGE number of people search for ‘John Lewis advert’ between October and December. This time last year, a whopping 673,000 searches were made in just a month. For an advertisement!

Well we can confirm there will be no tears but plenty of fuzzy animals are to be expected with a far more up lifting ad this year. Quite literally, in fact, as it’s the story of a little bed-bouncing girl called Bridget, whose parents buy her a trampoline for Christmas. But before she discovers it for herself, we see a whole host of furry friends enjoying a little jump first, leaving pet #bustertheboxer to gaze longingly out at them through the living room window. The moment of tribulation comes, however, on Christmas morn’ as Boxer bounds towards the trampoline, leaving Bridget and her parents a-gasp. True to brand, the advert runs along to the soothing tones of Vaults’ female singer covering Randy Crawford’s classic, One Day I’ll Fly Away. Last November, the ‘John Lewis Advert song’ alone had 40, 500 searches.

They’re rather clever, are John Lewis. Rather than going for the hard sell (“100000% OFF PRICES THIS CHRISTMAS ONLY!!! Buy now or your child will forever resent you!!!!!!”) they win you over with a story; with long-term, creative marketing that sells without trying. Year on year, they retain and build upon a strong brand identity (come on, you knew it just from the hew of the image, the soft female voice chime) and it comes as no surprise that the advert is the company’s most profitable ROI. What’s more, John Lewis seem to be taking SEO into consideration this year, by hosting the video on their website as opposed to on YouTube. This means that all shares should link to the John Lewis domain. Also, they’ve used an evergreen URL so that they can use it year-on-year. As I said, clever. 


John Lewis Advert web page


And yes, they may well have a budget as big as my boxing day belly but there’s a lot that small businesses, with small marketing budgets, can learn from the John Lewis advert.

By nature, the human race are story tellers and are run by emotions. So tapping into these two things is key to running a successful marketing campaign, as John Lewis know all too well. Stories have the power to move a person into action, far more successfully than your run of the mill call-to-action. And action is precisely what we, as marketers, work so hard to achieve.


But how can I do this, you may ask?


As an early Christmas present, we thought we’d give you a few quick tips about how you could begin incorporating storytelling into your digital marketing efforts:

1. Understand your target audience. Like seriously though. As if you had them for Secret Santa but you also have a massive crush on them. What drove them to start searching for your service or product? How did they find you? What were they searching for in Google? What had they been searching before that? Answering these key questions will allow you to identify key emotional drivers and create material that truly speaks to them and the things they care about.

2. Get personal. Again, you’re buying a Christmas gift for your mega-crush and you want something that goes above and beyond. Not that novelty drinks helmet you think is totally rad, but something personal and thought-through. Use your own stories, stories from employees, other customers, the local community… The more relatable the story, the more your audience will respond. In fact, get ultra-personal and invite your user to interact. Do a give-away or try getting a catchy hashtag to go viral (#BusterTheBoxer, already going strong).

3. Create a multi-channel campaign. Use whatever you’ve got. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, that Google thing that no one’s quite sure of but hey, why not? Get your story out there wherever you can!

If you want more advice of how to maximise your marketing strategy this Christmas, why not get in touch with one of our digital marketing specialist today? If you’re nice, we might even throw in a mince pie with our social media package (no, it’s never too early).


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