10th November 2017

Why John Lewis OWN the Christmas Advert Market

by Kate Walker, Social Media Content Executive

Image: Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Today is the day Christmas lovers in the UK have all been waiting for, today is the day that John Lewis revealed their 2017 Christmas advert to the public. But what is it that makes the John Lewis advert a MUST-SEE for so many people when it airs?

For me, the countdown to Christmas can officially begin when the John Lewis Christmas advert first airs on TV. Year after year the British retailer creates heart-warming, emotive and tear-jerking adverts that get the Great British public into a bit of a flurry. If you haven’t watched this year’s advert yet what are you doing with your life?! GO WATCH NOW!

Their first real Christmas advert success was in 2011 with ‘The Long Wait’, which got 1 million views within the first few days and the following years they had even more success with ‘The Journey’ in 2012 (6.6 million views), ‘The Bear and The Hare’ in 2013 (16 million views), ‘Monty the Penguin’ in 2014 (26 million views), ‘Man on the Moon’ in 2015 (28 million) and ‘Buster the Boxer’ in 2016 (25 million views). And today they have just released ‘Moz the Monster’, which has only been live for 8 hours and is already sitting at 809k views. It’s safe to say that John Lewis has their Christmas advert formula down to a tee, they’re Christmas content marketing masters but how do they do it and what is it exactly that makes us love their adverts so much?!


If you want your ad/campaign/product etc to be successful the first thing you must do is generate anticipation. You need to get people interested, excited and talking and that’s exactly what John Lewis do.

As their Christmas advert has become a sort of cultural icon over the years there will always be a bit of a buzz around Christmas time before John Lewis have even had time to set up their first teaser for the ad but nevertheless, they do their thing and get people talking.

The build-up to the adverts is like the release of a major blockbuster film, there’s teaser trailers, posters, social media hashtags and even Christmas advert merchandise. John Lewis know how to generate a buzz around their advert and get people talking about it before it’s even been released and when they finally release it, it makes a BIG impact. In 2014 when #MontythePenguin was revealed on Twitter, within the first three hours of the campaign launching there were 49,562 tweets about Monty, and #MontythePenguin was the number one UK trend within 90 minutes of the adverts release (Hotwire,2014). Promotion is key when it comes to having a successful campaign and John Lewis certainly know how to promote.


Any marketer knows that a good ad is all about generating emotions and every John Lewis advert creates an emotional connection with the viewer. Their adverts tell a story, engage with people and make them feel something, and as a brand that’s exactly what you want your advert to do.

I personally think another factor that that makes John Lewis’s adverts so successful is the fact that they’re a moment of escapism for people. With so much going on in the world it can be pretty easy to get wrapped up in the negativity of the news but the John Lewis Christmas advert provides a short but sweet moment of happiness and warmth, leaving you with a real feel good factor after watching it.


The internet is filled with millions of videos of cute animals and children that make us laugh and cry. According to Neuro-Insight’s own research, including animals in TV adverts can deliver a boost to the viewer’s emotional responses. So of course, it’s an incredibly smart move by John Lewis to have children and animals play such an integral role in so many of their Christmas adverts over the years. From the adorable little boy who couldn’t wait to give his parents their Christmas present (The Long Wait, 2012), to the goofy Buster the Boxer (2016) jumping on a trampoline, John Lewis know that children and animals tug on the heart strings and make people happy.


Nothing connects and drums up our emotions more than music. Music can make you feel a certain way or remember a distant memory and for brands it’s the perfect way to create that emotional connection with a customer.

When it comes to Christmas campaigns it’s easy for brands to take the safe route and choose a classic Christmas song for their campaign. But, with so many Christmas songs it can be difficult for your advert to stand out against the competition, how will your target audience remember your Christmas advert when it sounds so similar to many of the other Christmas adverts that are floating around on TV and online? This is where John Lewis has been able to rise above their competition by combining an emotive, heartfelt story with a song that their viewers will remember. John Lewis doesn’t do Christmas songs, instead they take covers of iconic songs by renowned artists and pair them with their story. It’s the perfect combination and one that sticks in people’s minds long after the advert is over.


What I like about the John Lewis Christmas adverts is the fact that they aren’t an obvious sales pitch. They don’t bombard people with new products, deals, offers, and discounts, they just tell a really nice story that makes you feel good.

Now, although their adverts don’t include a big sales pitch that hasn’t stopped John Lewis from raking in the cash; ‘The Bear and The Hare’ advert helped to increase sales for the retailer by 6.9% year on year; in 2012 thanks to the cute snowman from ‘The Journey’ they had a 44.3% sales increase online; and overall John Lewis estimates that since 2012 its sales have increased more than 35% thanks to the success of its Christmas advertising.

In my eyes, John Lewis will always be the King of the Christmas adverts, no matter what they do. They’ve nailed the perfect formula for creating a memorable Christmas advert:

Anticipation + Feel Good Factor + CUTE Children/Animals + A Song to Remember + No Sales Pitch = A Christmas advert people will remember for years to come

Which John Lewis Christmas advert is your favourite? What do you think of #MoztheMonster? Let us know via our social media channels below…

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Kate Walker, Social Media Content Executive

Why John Lewis OWN the Christmas Advert Market