Marketing lessons small businesses can learn from the John Lewis Christmas advert

It’s become as big a part of Christmas as crackers and falling asleep in front of the tv after dinner…

Business news and opinion

30 November 2016


The annual release of the John Lewis Christmas advert has become a highly anticipated event, with millions tuning in to watch this year's advert on 10 November.

Known for their heartstring-tugging storylines, accompanied by pared-down acoustic soundtracks, this winning formula has been imitated by a number of large brands.

And while it may not be possible for small businesses to imitate the big-budget production values of these famous advertisements, there are some marketing lessons that can be learned and applied in different ways for businesses of any size.

Emotional advertising performs better

Hamish Pringle (Director General of the IPA) and Peter Field (marketing consultant) analysed advertising effectiveness for their book, Brand Immortality. They found that emotive adverts performed twice as well as non-emotive advertisements. By focussing on family, love and community (rather than financial benefits), marketing can build an emotional link between your customers and your brand.

The unexpected creates memorability

Another successful aspect of these adverts is the originality of the storylines. The 2015 advert featured a young girl befriending an old man living on the moon, while the 2011 advert was all about a young boy counting down to Christmas so that he could give his parents a present. Stephan Vogel (Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather Germany) explained: "Creative advertising is more memorable, longer lasting, works with less media spending, and builds a fan community…faster.” This analysis is supported by studies that show how innovative ads get more audience attention and positive feedback.

Advertising aligns with brand identity

Emotive adverts aren't just successful at Christmas, they also create longer-term brand loyalty. By practising what you preach all year-round, you can build on the positive impact of your festive adverts have on your audience. That way, the customers you make at Christmas-time will keep coming back time and again.

What did you think of the 2016 ad? And what’s your favourite Christmas advert of all time? Have your say in the comments below!