The most wonderful time of the year is upon us again. The Starbucks red cups are back, the Coca Cola truck has begun its annual tour of the UK, and Michael Bublé has emerged from his cave for further renditions of Holly Jolly Christmas. That can only mean one thing; the release of a new John Lewis Christmas advert!
The John Lewis Christmas advert has become somewhat of a tradition in the UK consumerist calendar over the last 11 years and have pulled at many a heart (and purse) string of the British consumer. Their big-budget advertisements tell heartwarming tales about the joys of the festive season, often featuring cute and cuddly characters, such as plush penguins, boxer dogs, and, occasionally, a monster under the bed.
This year’s highly-anticipated advert, The Boy & The Piano, stars music legend Sir Elton John. Whilst sat at his piano, the singer reflects on his life and career, from playing grandiose venues and packed-out stadiums, to playing the piano at school, right back to when he was given his very first piano as a child on Christmas morning, ending with the message, “Some gifts are more than just a gift.”
The campaign doesn’t end at the advertisement. Consumers will have the opportunity to see the sets, props and the titular piano as an in-store feature of their Oxford Street store, which has dropped the ‘Lewis’ from its store front to simply read ‘John’. As well as this, 14 other John Lewis stores across the country will feature a piano in store for consumers to play.
This is a continuing trait of the John Lewis Christmas adverts; the 2014 Christmas campaign featuring Monty the Penguin saw the retail chain sell plush replica penguins for £95.00, which sold out almost immediately on John Lewis’ online store, resulting in the plush appearing (and selling) on eBay for £499.00.
The popularity of the John Lewis name during the festive months has even been played on by Twitter for their advertising campaign this year. John Lewis, a computer science lecturer from Virginia in the United States, receives over 50,000 tweets in error every year, which were intended for the retailer of the same name, many of which occur during the festive season. In response to this, Twitter have made John the star of their Christmas advert this year, which features various references and motifs from previous John Lewis Christmas adverts, such as a plush penguin, a moon, and a telescope.
Though festively-themed advertisements are far from an original marketing idea, the success and impact of John Lewis’ Christmas campaigns has seen other retailers attempt to recreate their success, such as Marks & Spencers and Sainsbury’s.
This year’s John Lewis Christmas ad, however, has polarised audiences. Though many are calling it a triumph, others are claiming it to be a more of a marketing ploy for Sir Elton’s retirement tour, as well as his upcoming biopic set to be released in cinemas next year. Others have claimed it’s simply not Christmassy enough, focussing on a tribute to the musician rather than celebrating the festive season. In response to this polarisation, Waitrose released an advertisement which playfully mocks the campaign, with brands such as Lidl and Pizza Hut taking jabs at the Christmas ad on social media platforms.
Regardless of the differing opinions, the advert has received just just shy of 10 million views on YouTube since it launched a week ago, and has put Sir Elton’s ‘Your Song’ (which features throughout the advert) in the running for this year’s UK Christmas Number One.
The real question to ask now is, will John Lewis be selling a plush Elton John toy this year?