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Business Surgery: Lucinda Sloane, of Bird Media, says business owners can learn from John Lewis’ Christmas ad

Last week, the eagerly anticipated John Lewis Christmas advert dropped and I, for one, love it – not just for the cheeky, snappy, present-regurgitating, alternative Christmas tree, but for lessons in advertising available to us business owners.

So, what can we learn from the John Lewis Christmas advert?

Alongside Mariah Carey’s All I want for Christmas and Love Actually (I’ve already watched it), the John Lewis advert is synonymous with the start of the festive season. The festivities simply cannot commence until the entire office has huddled around a single computer screen, collectively sobbing at a penguin, a boxer dog, a dragon, a Venus flytrap.

Lucinda Sloane, of Bird Media
Lucinda Sloane, of Bird Media

How do they get it so right?! A colossal budget and the support of a global advertising agency? Yes. But there are some key (and free!) takeaways that every business owner can implement in their own advertising and marketing campaigns this festive season and beyond.

Creating traditions through consistency

The John Lewis Christmas advert is a key event on the festive calendar and one that the Partnership has consistently delivered since 2007. Every year, consumers not only expect to see the cinematic advert on our screens but they look forward to it. They’re a captive audience, primed to purchase.

Knowing your audience

Being a department store selling everything from toasters to teddy bears, John Lewis has a vast offering and multi-generational customer base, so how do you appeal to everyone? Through the universal values of love and family – whatever they may look like for you. Throw in a classic song reworked by a contemporary artist as the soundtrack and you’re onto a winner.

Engaging through storytelling

The real secret to the success of the John Lewis Christmas advert is its ability to move its audience – not move them off the sofa to “buy now!” through a “sell, sell, sell” mentality, but to move them to tears, to laughter, to seek out that song on Spotify, to reach out to someone special. And these adverts stay with you (I’m all glassy-eyed now thinking about the snowman’s perilous journey into the city for a pair of gloves).


John Lewis may have a captive audience who they know how to engage, but they are never complacent. They are not afraid of change – their partnering with creative powerhouse Saatchi and Saatchi for their latest campaign is a testament to that – rather they approach change as an evolution. They always seeking the new while never losing sight of who they are.

I don’t promise to make your festive campaign as big as the John Lewis advert (well I will if you have their budget!), but I know a thing or two about advertising and marketing, not just for Christmas but all year round. So, if you want to know more, are in need of some advice or would like a sounding board for ideas, I’m here.

Bird Media
Bird Media

Contact me at lucinda.sloane@thisisbirdmedia.com.

Visit www.thisisbirdmedia.com

-- Business Surgery articles appear every Friday in the Bury Free Press