With John Lewis’ 2017 Christmas ad – #MozTheMonster – now available, what role do stories play in driving commercial success for brands, and how can marketers capitalise on this?
It’s here, the most wonderful time of the year: the launch of this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert.
The retail giant has perfected the festive ad into a fine art, with campaigns that have become the envy of others. You only have to look at the slew of Christmas adverts released in the past week – from M&S’ Paddington & The Christmas Visitor and Amazon’s Give, to the return of Kevin the Carrot in the new Aldi ad – to understand the business opportunity available for brands with a story.
But a story is only worth sharing if it is worth telling in the first place.
John Lewis’ campaigns are built on deep human truths, which resonate and move us. The best offer beautiful, magical storytelling, placing product second and allowing the tale the brand wishes to tell take centre stage. Creative thinking helps drive commercial success, enhancing brand reputation while developing an emotional connection for your customer.
Crucially, creativity goes hand-in-hand with profitability.
The retail giant shared only a glimpse of the advert on Twitter in the run-up to its full unveil. A clip of a set of mysterious eyes, posted from an unofficial Twitter account and accompanied by simply the hashtag #UnderTheBed and the eyes emoji, was enough to capture the attention of even the most cautiously curious.
And then, on 9th November, the organisation altered the brand signage on some of its storefronts around the UK, replacing the ‘o’ and the ‘e’ with a beady eye, teasing the campaign one step further.
On 10th November, the full ad was released. In my opinion, the campaign is yet another monstrous success for John Lewis.
The ad sees our young protagonist kept awake by a seven-foot imaginary monster, Moz. The young boy befriends the playful monster, but their midnight adventures begin to cause a serious lack of sleep for the kid.
To help the young boy to sleep, Moz gives him a special present – wrapped in a wonderfully haphazard fashion, which any of us who struggle to provide the perfectly-presented gift can relate with.
While the young boy momentarily believes he will no longer be able to enjoy his night-time escapades with his friend, a low grumble from Moz reassures the boy – and the audience – that he can conjure up his friend whenever he wishes.
The ‘deep human truths’ fall thick and fast throughout the advert: imaginary friends created as a child; the mad dash as a kid to run back into bed when a parent approaches your bedroom door and you know you should be asleep; the epically disastrous attempts at wrapping present – these are all included. Nostalgia, memories, humour, happiness; every colour and shade of storytelling.
Fiercely competitive at the best of times, Christmas is the season when the UK retail market really takes it up a notch. The arrival of ‘Black Friday’ and the rise of online sales has posed increasing challenges for businesses in recent years, when the key to sales still largely relies on in-store traffic. Campaigns such as #MozTheMonster play an important part in helping make John Lewis more profitable.
This year’s ad from John Lewis is the latest in a long series of successful campaigns. Who could forget Monty the Penguin, dreaming of his equal to love and cherish, and his best friend that helps make his wishes come true. This campaign, incidentally, became the retailer’s most effective and profitable one to date, and this case study from Campaign about the initiative’s strategy, roll-out and results makes for fascinating reading.
It remains to be seen whether #MozTheMonster will topple this feat. Regardless, for marketing professionals, the John Lewis Christmas ads represent the pinnacle of a truly multi-channel approach. They incorporate digital, social media, media relations, live PR stunts, immersive experiences and – at their core – a captivating piece of video content that drives the entire campaign forward.
The most successful and warmly received campaigns tell a tale that stays true to the purpose of the brand. However, it’s interesting to note that the disruptors of recent years – Airbnb, Uber, GoPro – do not tell stories, but actually help people live theirs. Whether it’s through the environment you reside in, the transport you take, or the adventures you experience, these brands help bring stories to life.
Brands need to understand the value of telling stories to others, and how their offering plays a vital role in helping customers to live their stories too.
By James Montgomery, Edson Evers