With the nation battling the cost-of-living crisis, it is more challenging than ever for brands to get their Christmas ad right.
How did John Lewis – the most eagerly-awaited Christmas ad – do? Did they get the tone right? Did the ad strike a chord with consumers?
We ask advertising and marketing leaders their thoughts on ‘The Beginner’, John Lewis’ latest Christmas advert.
Nicky Bullard, UK chief creative officer, MullenLowe Group
“The ad very much mirrors the psyche of the nation, we’re trying – but everything feels a little futile at the moment.
“It’s fantastic to see John Lewis creating something more purposeful than a table groaning from the weight of food that many people can little afford.
“The only thing is, I’d love to see greater clarity on how I, as a consumer can help.
“Through a little research I understand that by purchasing certain products I can make a contribution to Action for Children, it would be fantastic to have this clarified in this advert so consumers can see how they can drive progress towards this worthy cause.”
Oli Woolf, strategy director, Wunderman Thompson
“I like it. The pace of the storytelling keeps you on your toes. It’s unclear why the protagonist is obsessed with learning to skateboard.
“You even start to think he’s a bit of an idiot. Off pursuing his passion while his partner is miserably stuck at home. But the twist is perfectly timed – he’s desperate to build a bridge with their incoming foster child, who just adores skating.
“With this, John Lewis have successfully imbued their ad with a Christmas spirit of empathy and compassion…whilst avoiding the stale tropes of a huge turkey, Santa, and stockings round the fire.
“Personally, I would have fought to kill the super at the end: “We’re making a long-term commitment to support the futures of young people from care”. It feels forced. By heroing children in care in the narrative, we already know that John Lewis care.
Catherine Shuttleworth, CEO and founder, Savvy Marketing
“This year’s John Lewis ad is certainly a departure from the idea of Christmas ads selling loads of stuff to consumers. It’s a beautifully created piece of film and the strategic partnership that has been firmed between John Lewis and vulnerable young people has to be applauded.
“The John Lewis customer expects the partnership to act with purpose and this years Christmas ad clearly demonstrates that.”
Sophie Bell, managing director, Toast TV
“It wasn’t initially what you expect from a John Lewis Christmas ad in terms of magical animation or CGI, but it was what you’ve come to expect from them in terms of delivering a strong character-led story.
“I thought it was delightfully emotive, from humour to more heartfelt at the end.
“The commitment to raising awareness of such an important issue is really great. It strikes the right kind of tone for this year, and the climate that we’re in.
“I’d like to see more brands using their platform to positively impact society. It has a lot of relevancy and people can identify with a lot of what happens in the ad.”
“It’s been a challenging context for advertisers this year as they need to show sensitivity and strike the right tone with consumers amid the cost-of-living crisis.
“The John Lewis ad reflects on the true meaning of Christmas of togetherness, kindness and giving – values that will be particularly meaningful for people during these tougher times.
“The storyline certainly tugs on the heartstrings and we know building that emotional connection with viewers is really important in creating effective advertising.”