John Lewis Christmas adverts image collection

What makes John Lewis’ Christmas adverts so powerful?

Brandwatch ad rankings

I think we can (nearly) all agree that Christmas is most people’s favourite time of the year. We all enjoy a certain aspect of it, whether it’s the time for family and friends, food, presents or Christmas movies! However, there’s always that one thing that kicks off the festive season... Christmas adverts!

With almost every company producing Christmas adverts, John Lewis seems to be the Beyonce-of-Christmas advertisement. With having the most anticipated Christmas advert since 2011, John Lewis secured a number 1 ranking last year according to Brandwatch, receiving 94% for positive sentiment. With such a high figure, we can only wonder how they do this. What makes them so great at Christmas marketing?

Looking at recent research, the BBC reports that there are 3 elements a good Christmas advert should have which are, telling a good story in which the brand plays a key part, triggering an emotional response and providing an epic Christmas experience that draws people in. Let’s see how John Lewis implements all 3!

John Lewis ad screenshot

 1. Tell a good story in which the brand plays a key part

John Lewis tends to not focus their adverts on their products, but rather on the joy they bring when someone is gifted one. Referring to their 2011 Christmas ad, which arguably, was the beginning of John Lewis’ Christmas marketing success. This ad centred around a young boy who was anxiously waiting for Christmas day. As a viewer, your initial thought would be that he couldn’t wait to open his gifts.

However, plot twist! The ad showed that when Christmas day finally arrived, the young boy was excited to give his parents their gifts from him. Cute, right? The ad ended with the tagline “For the gifts, you can’t wait to give”. By focussing less on the gifts but on the driven act of kindness, you can’t help but feel an emotive response. Such feelings then follow onto the second element of a good Christmas ad.

John Lewis ad screenshot

2. Trigger an emotional response, but not be too serious or sad

As mentioned above, John Lewis seems to have mastered the art of having an emotional appeal. This seems to be a prevalent theme in their Christmas adverts. Whilst watching their adverts you’re almost inevitably saying “awww” at least twice. With the combination of little kids, imaginary fluffy friends, shared bonds and sweet fairytale storylines, it’s almost impossible to not be overwhelmed with emotion! Shall we test this theory out?

Watch any or all of the links below and see how you get on. I dare you to not have your heartstrings tugged on:

The Journey (2012)

Monty The Penguin (2014)

Man on the Moon (2015)

The Boy and the Piano (2018)

John Lewis ad screenshot

3. Provide an epic Christmas experience that draws people in

John Lewis 2019 Christmas advert seems to retrieve positive responses online, as seen by the overwhelmingly positive responses on social media.

There is an element of fantasy for this years avert, the same as 2017 which is aimed at adults but understood by children, too. The power of these adverts is that they get people talking! People often ask “have you see the John Lewis advert yet?” I know at least 80% of people asked this question in the h2o office.

Each year we feel empathetic towards at least one person or fantasy figure. We get that warm fuzzy feeling in our bellies and every year the theme tugs on our heartstrings.

John Lewis ad screenshot

This year, we feel sympathetic for the mischievous little dragon who just wants to join in with all the fun but is very clumsy and causes accidental havoc… Until the very end where his fire-breathing talent comes in handy when lighting up the Christmas cake. The advert didn’t focus on any products as they don’t need to, seeing as they’re a well-established brand.

The only text at the end of the advert is “Show them how much you care.” Bringing the viewer back to reality and reminding them that if you’re going to buy something for someone for Christmas it should be from John Lewis. It does make me think if you don’t buy anything from John Lewis, does that mean you don’t care at all? Interesting and clever marketing there.

John Lewis ad screenshot

From the above, it seems like whilst watching John Lewis Christmas adverts, viewers are taken on a journey with the characters involved. Beginning with a storyline that starts with some sort of disequilibrium, then ends with the happiest of fairytale endings! This journey enables viewers to check in with their values and reminds them of the true meaning of Christmas which is…giving!