John Lewis Christmas ad premieres on YouTube


The John Lewis annual Christmas ad has premiered on YouTube, ahead of its first terrestrial showing this evening, a sign that more brands are putting digital first in thier campaigns.

The UK retailer spent £7m on a campaign that includes a smartphone game and merchandise, including glow in the dark pyjamas, as well as areas decked out like the surface of the moon in 11 stores.

John Lewis has drummed up with a teaser campaign on TV and social media using the hashtag #OnTheMoon.

The ad centres on a lonely old man living in a crater on the moon, as the department store puts a charitable spin on its latest multi-million pound campaign.

Amid increasing hype around John Lewis’s seasonal ad, which has come to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season for many, the department store will aim to use its profile to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Age UK.

It will also encourage staff and customers to join up with their local branch of the charity to care for elderly people who might otherwise be alone over the holiday.

The ad’s strapline is: “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas”, which echoes Age UK’s own campaign: “No one should have no one at Christmas”. Profits from three products – a mug, gift tag and card – will go to the charity.

“The charity really resounds with people at this time of year, and the ad ... lends itself to thinking about someone who lives on your street that might not see anybody,” said Rachel Swift, head of marketing at John Lewis.

Directed by Kim Gehrig, the woman behind the This Girl Can ads for Sport England, the ad cost £1m to make. The moon scenes were shot at the Warner Bros Leavesden studios near Watford, where the Harry Potter films were made, and the specially built set was created by one of the team behind the latest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

Here are social media stats and sentiment analysis for the John Lewis Christmas advert over the past five years from Hotwire, global PR and communications agency.

The first hour - Responses to 2015 John Lewis Christmas Ad

· 16,396 mentions of #manonthemoon and #onthemoon (teaser hashtag) in the past hour
· 4,449 mentions of Aurora in the past hour
· Sentiment is 11% positive, 87% neutral, 2% negative
o Positive sentiment is due to people tweeting that it is ‘adorable’ and has a ‘beautiful message’
o Negative sentiment is largely due to people tweeting that they are crying because of the advert

John Lewis Christmas Ad Hashtag - How popular has this been in the past five years?

· 2015 - #onthemoon and #manonthemoon – 16,396 mentions in the first hour alone
· 2014 - #montythepenguin – 97,257 mentions over 24 hours on day of launch
· 2013 - #bearandhare – 6,826 mentions over 24 hours on day of launch
· 2012 - #snowmanjourney – 649 mentions over 24 hours on day of launch (no official hashtag in 2012, #snowmanjourney was user created in a time when Twitter was less popular)
· 2011 - #thelongwait – data to low to measure accurately (no official hashtag in 2011, #thelongwait was user created in a time when Twitter was less popular)

John Lewis Christmas Soundtrack - How popular has this been in the past five years?

· 2015 – Aurora – 4,449 mentions in the first hour alone
· 2014 – Tom Odell – 3,670 mentions over 24 hours on day of launch
· 2013 – Lily Allen – 3,303 mentions over 24 hours on day of launch
· 2012 – Gabrielle Aplin - 817 mentions over 24 hours on day of launch
· 2011 – Slow Moving Millie - 60 mentions over 24 hours on day of launch

Insights on the above data

  • John Lewis did note provide an official hashtag for the Christmas ad in 2011 and 2012. As a result, mentions were lower and the community created hashtags themselves. By providing a hashtag to use, John Lewis has increased the number of mentions and campaign reach.
  • In 2011 & 2012 the musicians received more mentions that the ads themselves. There is no doubt the music is still extremely powerful, but the ads themselves are now telling much more of a unique story that gets people talking more than they do about the track.
  • The first 24 hours is usually the YouTube launch, not the TV launch, so this will have some impact on the number of people who see the initial ad.
  • Twitter has become more mainstream over the years which explains some of the lower figures in the earlier years.
  • Commenting on the new ad, Daniel Todaro, managing director of field marketing agency, Gekko, said: "John Lewis have rolled out another emotional tear jerker involving again a child as the central character to a rather clever Oasis soundtrack choice sung by a breathless Aurora; its what John Lewis do well or rather their advertising agency adam&eveddb. By creating a memorable message through its soundtrack, which most who have a child of that age and perhaps in the 90’s never dreamed of stepping into a John Lewis store, creates a connection across a wider demographic of existing and new shoppers which I suspect will work to generate revenue; the actual purpose of the ad. The TTL approach extending the customer journey is neat with online, in-store and links with Age UK, asking consumers to donate also iTunes & Spotify to purchase the song, albeit all being perhaps a bit cheesy. Perhaps the goodwill could have been cleverly extended by John Lewis though donating some of the proceeds from the soundtrack to Age UK rather than promote an artist and generate revenue for commercial third parties.

    “It is actually refreshing to see brands stepping out on their own this year and not wishing to emulate John Lewis, whilst not necessarily unique it works well to avoid the amalgam of sentimental ads reducing brand recall for the consumers who skip past ads as they view on catch-up. With Boots, Lidl and Waitrose opting for a more light-hearted Christmas ad campaigns this year and the Sainsbury’s ad still to come, only time will tell whether this year they’ll be any real strong contenders, like it or not, to the rather successful John Lewis crown.”

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