Hare-raising: John Lewis Christmas ads are getting less emotionally engaging

2013's 'The bear and the hare' has topped analysis of retailer's festive campaigns.

John Lewis: 2013 ad featured extremely sleepy bear
John Lewis: 2013 ad featured extremely sleepy bear

The two most recent Christmas ads from John Lewis & Partners are the least emotionally engaging of the past eight years, a new study has found.

2017’s "Moz the monster" came bottom of the ranking from Unruly, which analysed the emotional responses of 5,034 consumers to the ads using its content measurement tool, UnrulyEQ. The tool gives a score based on the percentage of people who felt intense positive emotions while watching. 

The tale of the friendly monster under the bed, soundtracked by an Elbow cover of The Beatles' Golden Slumbers, scored 32% on emotional engagement – just above the UK norm of 29%. 

Last year’s "The boy and the piano", featuring Sir Elton John, did only slightly better, with 34% emotional engagement. 

Topping the list was 2013’s "The bear and the hare", the animated story of two animals and the lengths they go to celebrate Christmas together, featuring a cover of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know by Lily Allen. With 48% emotional engagement, it was easily the highest scorer – five points clear of second-placed "Buster the boxer" from 2016.

Despite the downward trend of the past two years, Rebecca Waring, Unruly’s global vice-president, insight and solutions, said the above-average scores for the eight ads, all created by Adam & Eve/DDB, demonstrated why they have generated such a popular appeal over the past decade.

"Our research really shows why the release of the John Lewis Christmas commercial has become as much a part of the festive story as mince pies, presents and your grandad falling asleep during the queen’s speech," she said.

"We all know that Christmas is an emotional time of the year, but it’s not just family overtime, cheesy movies and fights over the Christmas Day dinner table that make it such an emotional rollercoaster. Festive ads also play their part in making the Christmas holidays a particularly emotional time for a lot of people around the world. And very few advertisers can make us feel as emotional as John Lewis."

Simon Gwynn

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