It’s the season, apparently. The ghost of Halloween has barely been laid to rest and the final ember of bonfire night has yet to die, but Christmas is now upon us. Kicking off the festivities in adland is the arrival of John Lewis’s traditional Christmas tearjerker. Previous efforts have seen Monty the Penguin melt hearts and the Bear and the Hare spread warm, fuzzy feelings across the nation.
2015’s Man on the Moon, part of the retailer’s £7m campaign, sees a girl attempt to bring cheer to an old man stranded on the moon. As part of the campaign, John Lewis has teamed with Age UK to raise awareness around loneliness; proceeds from several products will be donated to the charity.
As one of the year’s most talked about ad events, we asked several industry insiders what they thought of the new John Lewis Christmas ad.
Rik Moore, Head of Creative Strategy, Havas Media
I sat down to view the 2015 John Lewis Christmas ad with some trepidation; after so many successful years, surely it would have to run out of steam? Hence my apprehension at the prospect of a mawkish film soundtracked by another plinky-plonky mauling of a great song.
So what a pleasant surprise Man on the Moon is. I would go so far as to say it’s the best effort yet from the retailer.
With this ad, John Lewis retains its title as the grandmaster of delivering emotional, magical creative. The masterstroke – and why I love this ad so much – is that it is tied up with Age UK to ensure that all this heartstring tugging isn’t for nothing. The connection doesn’t feel forced – it doesn’t hide the fact that John Lewis is a retailer trying to drive sales – but it makes the brand more meaningful by highlighting a very real issue that is topical and relevant.
Mark Goodwin, Creative Director, M&C Saatchi
It’s a sweet tale about a little girl and the man on the moon. Is it better than last year’s avian love story? It doesn’t really matter; John Lewis has again just about navigated the traps of schmaltz and cynical commerciality. You can snipe about how much it cost or the lack of respect for the laws of astrophysics (or optics, for that matter), but it seems churlish not to like it – especially as it highlights the loneliness of the elderly at Christmas.
To be honest, this isn’t a complicated formula: create a festive fairy tale to make us feel good about Christmas and, in doing so, about John Lewis. But in celebrating Christmas this way, the brand makes its competitors’ offerings seem rather needy, cheap and commercial. It’s not an easy trick to pull off and not everyone could manage it.
Rebecca Crook, Business Development Director, The BIO Agency
The ad is everything I expected it would be, so no surprises there. But this time John Lewis is heavily investing in the digital side of the campaign, with an augmented reality 3D app that will definitely engage consumers.
Last year, like-for-like sales across the retailer grew by 4.8% for the five weeks to 27 December, but in-stores they were about 1% lower. Using technology to engage consumers in-store and online will help close that gap. The integration of exciting digital assets might be a small step for John Lewis, but it’s a giant leap for its digital transformation.
Last year, like-for-like sales across the retailer grew by 4.8% for the five weeks to 27 december, but in-stores they were about 1% lower. Using technology to engage consumers in-store and online will help close that gap
Nick Eagleton, Creative Director, The Partners
Beautifully made. Beautifully sung. Cinematic. Moving. Heartfelt. While I feel the pathos of the connection between the girl and the man on the moon, it’s only skin deep. I’m not feeling it in my heart.
Perhaps it’s because it sits halfway between Monty, with its simple story of love and friendship, and Sainsbury’s Christmas Truce, with its overt connection to an issue beyond retail. Both blockbusters and both clear in their intentions. If Age UK is part of the story, why isn’t it part of the film? Speaking of blockbusters: isn’t the theme just a little coincidental with a certain other epic space story arriving this Christmas?
It’ll be a huge hit and I’m sure John Lewis will sell a lot of those telescopes, scooters and party dresses featured so overtly. But being both things stops it being truly great at either.
Anna Carpen, Creative Director, 18 Feet & Rising
If Pixar did Christmas ads, this wouldn’t be far off. Wonderfully directed with a heartwarming little girl at the centre of it. However, pairing up with such an important charity needs more than an explosion of recycled moon memes on Twitter.
I hope this prompts the John Lewis audience to volunteer with Age UK – get off their iPhone screens and go and spend time with those who are lonely. Not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
Gerry Human, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy & Mather London
I don’t think it matters if you like the new ad or not. The cleverness lies in the brand and the agency’s confidence to stick to such a simple, clear strategy. In an environment where so many retailers keep chopping and changing tack out of desperation, this one stands head and shoulders above the rest.
As a result of such clarity and consistency, people feel like they understand exactly what John Lewis stands for. And when a brand has such a powerful identity, it makes it easier to spend your money with them, because you feel like you trust them.
By the way, I do think it’s a sweet ad.