THE JOHN LEWIS ADVERT, A MASTERCLASS IN CHRISTMAS BRAND POSITIONING

“Imagine being in charge of the John Lewis Christmas advert? The whole nation’s Christmas spirit rests on your shoulders,” wrote one Twitter user earlier this month. This comment sums up how the launch of the John Lewis Christmas advert has become an eagerly anticipated event in the British calendar, and is widely regarded as a masterclass in Christmas brand positioning.

This year’s annual campaign didn’t disappoint as evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive social media reaction to the touching story of Joe and Moz. The owner of his very own trending hashtag , #MoztheMonster is the star of this year’s campaign, along with the obligatory cute child and the now-traditional classic song covered by a modern artist, this year featuring Elbow’s rendition of The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers.

The touching story of an unlikely, magical friendship forged during the festive period follows the winning recipe of previous years. Like Monty the Penguin and Buster the Boxer, the advert’s protagonist is a young child , Joe, who discovers a monster is sleeping under his bed. At first Joe is wary and irritated by the beast’s snoring, but once Moz lets off a fart Joe laughs, and the two begin to form a friendship. And yes, I really did write fart!

Jane Bloomfield, Kantar Millward Brown’s head of UK marketing, told The Independent:

The success of a Christmas ad goes far beyond the six to seven-week run-up to Christmas. Return on investment on ads is not necessarily measured only in terms of short-term sales and profits, but also in terms of how much buzz and fame the advertising can generate and the longer term impact that has on the brand.” “The more famous the ad becomes, the harder it works for the brand, and the more opportunity for that brand to convert it into increased sales.”

We may not have the budget of John Lewis, rumoured to be £7 million. But we can take the key elements of its Christmas marketing strategy and use these to run a strong campaign that helps to solidify our brand positioning in the eyes of our customers. Here are 7 ideas to inspire our Christmas brand positioning:

1. Pick A Campaign Theme

In order for your holiday marketing campaign to stand out, it must be repeatable and memorable to your customers. Begin by deciding on a theme which will tie all your holiday campaigns together, and then determine which activities will best support that overarching theme. In the case of John Lewis, their overarching campaign theme is ‘friendship.’

If you’re not sure which themes your customers most resonate with, analyse what they posted about on social media last year. Use this as your campaign theme and ask yourself ‘does this reinforce our theme?’ when planning your promotional calendar. If the answer is no, let it go.

2. Use Emotion

Emotion is a current that runs through all relationships, including the relationship between brands and consumers. If you can attach your Christmas campaign theme to an authentic and aligned emotion that resonates with your customers, this will help you to create deeper, long-lasting connections that will extend into 2018.

Make sure you stay true to your brand promise, and don’t hijack a powerful emotion if you don’t typically communicate that way in your brand messaging and tone of voice.

3. Establish A Charitable Partnership

The holiday season is a fantastic time to align with a charity that makes sense to your brand and your theme. John Lewis selected Barnardo’s as its charity partner and 10% of the price of every Moz the Monster mug and soft toy sold will be donated to the children’s charity.

Which charity partner and/ or artist best matches the spirit of your brand and could best help spread your message?

4. Define Your Main Campaign Image

Make sure your Christmas campaign is visually consistent by implementing this across every visual element of your holiday campaigns, from social media marketing to remarketing. Our brain processes visual images 60,000 times faster than text so make sure your customers can recognise your campaigns across all channels at a glance.

5. Decide Your Holiday Campaign Hashtag Strategy

Connecting your theme to your customer base through a holiday hashtag strategy creation is a great way of generating enthusiasm for your brand, and potentially content you could use. This requires a well-crafted holiday hashtag that’s unique to your brand, easily memorable, and inspires digital audiences to use and share on it.

In the run-up to the launch, John Lewis teased its customers with the hashtag #UnderTheBed. Now its campaign has gone live, its primary hashtag is the simple and memorable #MozTheMonster.

Often brands to connect their holiday hashtags to an emotion, such as humour, giving back or nostalgia. The hashtag doesn’t have to include the brand name, for example Lululemon’s #givepresence, but could if there’s an organic fit, such as with Anthropologie’s #dearanthro.

6. Tap Into Social Influencers

Influencer marketing enables brands to connect with their customers in a more natural way, by using opinion leaders with large followings on social media to drive a brand’s message to the larger market. With most conventional brands opting for expensive advertising during the holiday season, an influencer marketing strategy can be accost-effective alternative.

According to a study by McKinsey, influencer marketing generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising, along with a 37% higher customer retention rate. That’s because shopping is a key behaviour associated with the holiday season. Influencers can have a very subtle, yet effective way of making a brand’s product or service the new ‘must have’.

7. Promote Your Campaign Across Your Key Channels

The best way to reinforce your Christmas brand positioning and stay top-of-mind is by promoting content on all your key digital and social channels, as well as in print and traditional media, direct mail, and more. By tapping into a single overarching theme powered by emotion and stunning visuals, you’ll build recognition across channels and take more than your share of the holiday marketing pie.

At John Lewis’ flagship store on London’s Oxford Street, scenes from the film greet shoppers, including what the retailer claims is the first farting and snoring window display. In addition, 10 John Lewis outlets have been adapted with ‘Monster Maker’ stations, where customers can create their own Moz selfies. On the website, you’ll find a Monster Maker App. While the actress Sally Phillips narrates the story on YouTube.

I hope you can see how you can take an iconic, well-financed marketing campaign like the ones run by John Lewis, and apply the learning to your own Christmas brand positioning.

Wishing you every success with your Christmas marketing campaign. And thank you, as always, for reading my articles.

Question: What did you think of the Christmas John Lewis advert? Has it prompted ideas to help with your Christmas brand positioning? Is this something you might try? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share in the comments box below.

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