John Lewis: rumoured to have a moon theme for its ad after a teaser broke this week
John Lewis: rumoured to have a moon theme for its ad after a teaser broke this week
A view from Juliet Haygarth

The industry doesn't view a Christmas ad as successful unless it draws public tears

As my tolerance for tinsel in August has dropped considerably now that I'm older and more easily annoyed, it could be just me but doesn't...

Like a silent killer, Christmas has been imperceptibly pervading our streets since the end of the summer, and now it’s almost everywhere. A few weeks ago I walked past a supermarket which had a banner splayed across the front, with one half saying Happy Halloween and the other saying Happy Christmas. Why they didn’t shove Happy Valentine’s Day 2016 on there as well I can’t fathom.  

John Lewis’ brand of heart warming sentimentality has spawned a hundred look-a-likes and ‘me toos

John Lewis ad countdown

As John Lewis has the good grace to wait until a few days after Halloween to launch its ad you could argue Christmas, in this country at least, hasn’t yet begun. But the newspapers tell a different story.

When I was a kid we used to count down the days until Christmas. Now people count the days until the John Lewis ad launches, according to the Telegraph, which has launched a clock literally calculating the hours, minutes and seconds until its editorial staff can churn out hundreds of column inches about the retailer’s effort this year, and whether it made them cry or not.

The media is also panting over the news that Oasis’s ‘Half The World Away’ could be the soundtrack to the John Lewis ad and therefore a practically guaranteed Christmas number one.

Reports that Sainsbury’s is planning to serve us up an animated version of Mog the Forgetful Cat for its Christmas offering got considerably less traction outside the industry press. But nonetheless, all the big brands have considerably upped their yuletide game thanks to the John Lewis effect.

Last year the cinematic and quite daring "truce in the trenches" spot from Sainsbury’s was one of many ads that showed that

Currently, the industry doesn’t seem to regard an ad a success unless it can squeeze a few tears out of its audience.

British brands are throwing all the marketing muscle they’ve got at Christmas. However, agencies need to start realising that there is more than one emotion to be mined in a festive brief.

John Lewis’ brand of heart warming sentimentality has spawned a hundred look-a-likes and "me toos".  Currently, the industry doesn’t seem to regard an ad a success unless it can squeeze a few tears out of its audience.

The flames are fanning themselves

It’s funny to recall Andy Street, John Lewis’ managing director, promising last year that the retailer would take a "more modest approach" to its Christmas campaign following complaints on social media over festive ad hype.

Now the John Lewis phenomenon is in existence there’s not much the brand’s managers can do to stop it, outside of making a rubbish ad that is. The flames are fanning themselves.

While people who don’t want to have to think about Christmas until December will continue to be disappointed, none of this is bad news for the ad industry in this country. In an age of ad blocking, the more positive and louder the buzz surrounding what brands are doing at Christmas the better.

The point of advertising is to get talked about it, that is what drives sales and brand value. It’s high time we had our own Super Bowl for ads in this country, which is what Christmas is shaping up to be. Commercialisation one, true meaning of Christmas nil. Scrooge would be very pleased indeed.