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British Stores and Christmas Scores

For British retail stores the Christmas season is the opportunity they have planned for all year long to hog the advertising limelight. And many do take center stage with some of the best, if not the best, festive season commercials to be viewed in any given year.

John Lewis, Harvey Nichols and adam&eveDDB, London

Advertising agency adam&eveDDB, London has successfully been the agency of record for high-end retail department store brand John Lewis, and high-end fashion store Harvey Nichols.

The agency has scored a total of 7 Cannes Grand Prix awards for its work spanning many years for the two brands.

The following commercials demonstrate the high bar of consistent and sustained creative excellence that the agency has set.

1. John Lewis, The Bear and The Hare

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

The 2013 animated story of ‘The Bear and The Hare’ for John Lewis, was one of the most popular Christmas commercials of all time with young and old alike, and demonstrates how powerful animation can be emotively for engaging all audiences, regardless of age.

The hand-drawn animation by Florida-based artists led by former Disney animator Aaron Blaise, took six months to create and was combined with a set built and filmed in a studio in south London, using a filmic animation technique not used for decades in Britain.

The evocative soundtrack of ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ is by Lily Allan and can be downloaded from iTunes.

2. John Lewis, Monty’s Christmas

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

Superbly directed by Dougal Wilson, this 2014 Cannes Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix, and Film Craft Grand Prix winner was described by jury president Andrew Robertson as follows:

“Everything the Cannes festival stands for. It’s beautiful, emotional work for a retail brand that was proven to have contributed to revenue growth of 132 million pounds.”

Monty’s Christmas sparked 212,000 tweets, plus 165,000 ‘shares’ on Facebook, and increased web traffic by an extra 14 million visits.

Online views across all social channels totaled 29 million of which 22 million came from YouTube and overall the campaign delivered a staggering 568 million impressions.

People engaged with ‘Monty’ online and social media also allowed fans to continue following the story online. A ‘Monty App’ hit the top spot in the ‘iTunes Kids’ chart, with more than 500,000 interactive sessions.

3. John Lewis, Buster the Boxer

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

Directed by Dougal Wilson the commercial according to Campaign magazine was the most shared on social media in 2016. It motivated 137 million views in the first week of its festive season campaign’s launch.

Chief Marketing Officer of Brandwatch, Will McInnes, summed up the campaign’s consumer appeal as follows:

“As marketers, we know that a great ad is all about eliciting emotions. It’s classic big brand storytelling, meets distribution in the social age.”

“Essentially people won’t share boring content and John Lewis knows it. In a world where our attention is pulled in so many different directions, it’s a reminder that a good story still matters.”

The soundtrack, which features a cover version of Randy Crawford’s 1980 hit, ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’, performed by British electronic trio the ‘Vaults’, was recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios and topped the YouTube’s annual festive leaderboard globally.

4. John Lewis, Moz The Monster

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

Academy award-winning screenwriter Michel Gondry directed this 2017 Christmas commercial that involved a huge Sesame Street inspired puppet operated by two people inside and filmed live in a London studio.

The soundtrack features a classic Beatles song, Golden Slumbers from the 1969 Abbey Road album that was re-recorded by rock band Elbow for the commercial.

John Lewis’s customer director Craig Inglis, explained the communication rationale of the integrated campaign:

“This year’s Christmas campaign brings to life the power of children’s imaginations and the joy of great friendships. Moz and Joe’s story is magical and heartwarming.”

The story however, had a mixed reception. Many viewers thought it was the best ever but equally, many felt that it was not as good as the commercials of the last couple of years, and not that particularly festive in spirit or mood.

The commercial did successfully motivate 18,260 mentions in the first three hours following its release but industry figures, according to Campaign magazine, later revealed that ‘Moz, The Monster’ was the least successful festive season campaign for John Lewis in five years.

5. Harvey Nichols, Sorry, I Spent It On Myself

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

The following commercial, brilliantly directed by James Rouse, is a tongue-in cheek story and part of a clever, excellently crafted, integrated advertising and marketing campaign.

The insightful truth is that one may sometimes be reluctant about spending money on gifts for family and cautious about being too generous, but have no such qualms when buying a Christmas gift for one’s self.

At the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, the Harvey Nichols campaign won an Integrated Grand Prix, a Film Grand Prix, a Press Grand Prix and a Promo & Activation Grand Prix, making it one of the most awarded campaigns in the festival’s history.

6. Harvey Nichols, Avoid Gift Face

Advertising Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

Directed by Tim Bullock, this amusing commercial is a story about a human insight I’m sure we all can relate to.

It’s about that expectant moment of opening a gift and discovering that you hate it, but out of politeness had to pretend that you loved it by putting on your best ‘gift face’ expression.

In fact, a survey revealed that 72 percent of adults in Britain admitted to having pulled a “gift face” to save the feelings of a loved one, and 63 percent admitted to wearing or using an unwanted gift after Christmas to keep up the pretense.

According to Campaign magazine, ‘Gift Face’ was the most engaging campaign of the 2015 festive season.

7. John Lewis & Waitrose Partner, Bohemian Rhapsody

Advertsing Agency: adam&eveDDB, London

The John Lewis Partnership Trust, the parent company of the John Lewis high-end retail department stores and Waitrose supermarkets, have undertaken a major rebranding exercise aimed at creating an effective synergy in cross-branding integration between the two stores.

The retailers have been renamed Waitrose & Partners and John Lewis & Partners as part of a concerted drive for a greatly enhanced customer service.

Directed by Dougal Wilson, the ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ commercial was released recently to mark this rebranding launch.

Although it’s probably too early to be genuinely regarded as Britain’s first festive season commercial of 2018, for me and many viewers it certainly feels that way but maybe adam&eve will surprise us with a new John Lewis & Partners Christmas commercial in a few weeks time.

There certainly will be no adam&eve conceived Christmas commercial for Harvey Nichols this year. In a very surprising move recently, their lauded 17 year long collaboration with Harvey Nichols was terminated by new Group Marketing and Creative Director Deborah Bee, who appointed TBWA as her preferred advertising agency.