Knowledge Bank Blog, Shopper Communication, Channel Execution

John Lewis Xmas Ad – Love It Or Hate It?

So, last week we hadnthe official start of Christmas – John Lewis unveiled their Christmas ad.

You have probably seennor heard about it by now.  But, just inncase you haven’t, here is a quick summary.

It features EltonnJohn.  The soundtrack is “Your Song”.  It shows scenes from Elton’s life andncareer.  Some are real, some usenactors.  It pulls on all the emotionalnheartstrings that we’ve come to expect from John Lewis.  It ends with a young Elton unwrapping his Christmasngift – a piano.  The tagline is “somengifts are more than just a gift”.  Allngood, right?

Well not quite.  It has divided opinion.  Nowhere more than amongst the InsightnTraction gang.  Two competing points ofnview have emerged.

The first…”What wasnthat all about?  It doesn’t link stronglynto John Lewis.  I went on the website andnthey don’t even sell (expletive removed) pianos”.  The second…”Great ad.  Captures the spirit of Christmas.  Nice tagline. nIt’s about gifts not pianos”.

So, which camp are younin?  Are you in the “they don’t even sellnpianos” camp?  Or are you in the “theynare not trying to sell you pianos” camp?

Why are we talkingnabout this?  The debate about the JohnnLewis ad is a great demonstration of how exactly the same thing can beninterpreted in very different ways.  Itnhappens all the time.  Brexit?  Marmite? nCricket?  Piers Morgan?  Well, maybe we are all united on the lastnone.

There is a lot ofnsubjectivity in our world.  This isnparticularly true of marketing – whether it is a TV ad, 6 sheet poster, a POSndisplay, or a pack.  We all look atnthings through a certain lens.  Thisnmeans we can look at the same thing, view it through our own lens and come tondifferent conclusions.

To change this, wenneed to look at things through the same lens. nTake the subjectivity and emotion out of things and allow differentnpeople to look at the same thing in the same way.

To look at things morenobjectively.

So, how can you donthis?

WHAT you need.  To start with you need a set of rules thatncan be used as the lens through which you look at things.  These might be the ‘Golden Rules for PacknDesign’ or the ‘Golden Rules for POS Communication’.  These rules move the conversation away fromnwhat each individual thinks towards a conversation about whether the Pack ornPOS (or other form of communication) delivers against the rules.

The rules need to benwritten in a certain way.  Firstly, theynneed to be clear.  Use simple, everydaynlanguage that everyone can understand. nDon’t say “Use the key visual identifiers that shoppers associate withnthe brand” when you could say “Reinforce the brand colour cues”.  Secondly, they need to be specific.  Don’t say “Don’t overcomplicate thenmessage”.  Say “Use few words.  Use short words”.  Thirdly, they need to be objective.  Don’t say “Make pack designs simple”.  Say “have 5 visual elements or less”.

HOW you use them.  There are three ways you can use GoldennRules.

First, is to diagnose.  For instance, you could look at your currentnpack designs and identify strengths and weaknesses.  What are the key strengths you need tonmaintain?  What are the key weaknessesnyou need to address?  Just looking at anpack and saying this is a rubbish pack is not helpful.  It’s like a Doctor saying “You’re notnwell”.  Yes, but…what is wrong?  You need to be able to diagnose what is wrongn(or right).

Second, is to direct.  Having a set of Golden Rules means that younset the right direction in the first place. nSo, the 6 sheet poster or POS options are more likely to follow the rightnprinciples.  So you end up with a fewngood design options.  Your job is to thennselect the best of a good bunch.  Toonoften we see designs that don’t follow core communication principles.  It means you end up filtering through thendesign options looking for the tallest dwarf.

Third, is to assess.  Having Golden Rules means that you cannobjectively assess different communication or design options.  For example, of the different messages wencould use, which one best meets our rules? nAnd do we need to make any tweaks to it based on those rules?  Many companies and brands don’t have the timenor money to carry out lots of quantitative testing before they putncommunication into market.  If you haventhe right rules to assess against you often don’t need to.

Subjectivity is greatnfor debate.  Objectivity is great fornagreement.

So, we can allnobjectively agree that the John Lewis ad was not about selling pianos.  Right…?

Feel free to forward.  Have a great weekend and speak to you next week.