In recent years, John Lewis’ Christmas advertising has become synonymous with the countdown to Christmas. John Lewis’ big break came in 2007, but have had numerous successful adverts with “The Bear and the Hare” (2013) being one of the most successful ads at winning the heart of the nation.

This year (2020) was no different, although the global Coronavirus pandemic has certainly changed the world for the short-term at least. The high street retailer made a bold departure from its emotive advertising, no longer focusing on a key character such as ‘Excitable Edgar’, ‘Monty the Penguin’ and ‘Buster the Boxer’ – the previous centre of their stories. This year, the advertising features multiple forms of moving art; created by eight artists – honing on the community values which had increased prominence in the nation’s hearts. This was a deliberate move by John Lewis – highlighting kindness and the inclusivity of the brand.

Using AdProbe, Vision One’s advertising pre-testing research method we conducted a monadic test on the execution via an online survey amongst a nationally representative sample.

This year’s advertising tells the story of a young boy giving some love in a snow-heart to a snowman, who passed the happiness onto a snowman-couple with a missing tyre, by taking its middle body out, transforming it into a heart-balloon. In turn, a little love is slowly spread from person to person throughout the video with “A little love” referring to the small things each person does in the video.

Our Results

The UK wide survey has shown that the TV advert is strong compared to TV advertising in general, but does not compare to high ratings achieved by ‘Buster the Boxer’ aired in 2016).

Overall, John Lewis’ Christmas advertising has consistently shown high levels of Impact and Attention-Grabbing qualities. The scores have exceeded our normative averages (a collation of all our advertising research) year on year but this year ‘Give a Little Love’ did not have the same compelling impact as Buster the Boxer or Monty the Penguin. In addition, ‘Stickiness‘ the metric which refers to memorability which fell below our norm and all the other John Lewis Christmas ads we have looked at since 2014.

AdProbe includes questions measuring Emotional Engagement and Fascination. EncourThis year’s ad achieved a 33% rating for Joy, just 3% lower than our highest score ever achieved. The story also instils TrustCreativity and Intrigue in respondents clearly indicating that there are some positive aspects of the advertising – but the move from cute animals and characters may not be as beneficial as hoped.


Sentiment Analysis

This year we have introduced Video Sentiment Analysis to our AdProbe approach – this allows respondents to record how they feel while watching the advert albeit Like or Dislike and Interesting or Boring. Overall, we have seen a positive uplift in Liking (a.k.a. emotional engagement) while watching – the same can be said for Interest but the uplift was not as notable in strength.

Music always plays an important part in their advertising and creating emotions and this year was no different. Previous executions all included acoustic covers of ballads by; Ellie Goulding, Gabrielle Aplin, Tom Odell and Aurora. This year was Celeste’s turn – despite rumours that Jess Glynne would take on the roll this year. John Lewis opted for the American–born British singer and songwriter who recently won both the Brit Award for Rising Star and the BBC Music Award for Introducing Artist of the Year.

The Best John Lewis Advert?

So, which is the best Christmas Advert from John Lewis? Well according to our metrics these indicate that Buster is the most effective (maybe we’re a nation of dog lovers!). You can read up on our analysis of that advert here.

What we will say, even though it didn’t win the award for best John Lewis Advert, Give A Little Love does send a beautiful message and is something we should all do more often!


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