Category: Our Work

Week Five- John Lewis, Monty the Penguin

John Lewis

This is Christmas. And this is the John Lewis Christmas campaign. This is arguably the most high-profile marketing campaign in the UK and the most significant commercial period for all retailers. Each new John Lewis Christmas campaign is hotly anticipated, analysed, debated, critiqued, rated and talked about. Failing to engage the nation will therefore have a significant commercial, social and cultural impact on the John Lewis brand.

The pressure to succeed is only extended by the fact that every retailer is desperately trying to topple John Lewis’ position as theUK’s favourite Christmas advertiser. Resting on past glories was never an option.

The idea- first anticipation, then imagination

 John Lewis sits in a truly privileged position. People are genuinely excited about seeing the latest ‘John Lewis Christmas ad’. With this natural anticipation, we set out to start conversations about Monty even before he had been launched.

Monty is a penguin and the best friend of a little boy, Sam. To the viewer, Monty is a real-life penguin. But by the end of the ad we discover that Monty is actually Sam’s well-loved soft toy. A child’s imagination is a wonderful thing; many like Sam bring their favourite toy to life. With this insight, we created a campaign that encouraged imagination and people to see things with childlike wonder!

john lewis monty the penguin 2 jpg (3)

Bringing it to live with powerful media and tech partnerships

With so much riding on Christmas, we placed huge emphasis on collaboration. As such, we started briefing media owners at the start of the summer and in the true spirit of partnership we gave them unprecedented client, creative and agency access.

To get the nation talking about Monty even before the very first spot we turned to Channel 4. They proposed an innovative approach to seeding the penguin by allowing him to be integrated in their station trailers, where the four logo is constructed out of moving objects. These would then be used as 10” teasers promoting the launch spot in Gogglebox within an entire ad break takeover!

To stimulate imagination we installed a ‘Monty’s Den’ (i.e. grotto) into every store, where children and their parents could deepen their relationship with our penguin star.

John Lewis1

In partnership with Google, we created ‘Monty’s Goggles’ for every ‘Den’, where we used Google Cardboard to deliver an immersive virtual reality experience – putting Monty and innovative technology in the hands of our shoppers to stimulate their own minds!

In the flagship Oxford Street store the digital technology was taken a step further with ‘Monty’s Magical Toy Machine’. In partnership with Microsoft we developed a technological first; whereby children’s soft toys were digitally scanned and then brought to life before their eyes, so they could dance together with their favourite cuddly friend on the latest 4K TV screens. A truly magical event!

The results

2014 was the Christmas of MontyJohn lewis 2

Specifically, the anticipation and imagination activity made Monty a marketing star:

  • 5m tuned in for the C4 premiere with break retention at 91% up from LY (89%)
  • There were 5m conversations around #MontyThePenguin before the ad had even launched
  • John Lewis was the first UK retailer to use Google Cardboard and ‘Monty’s Goggles’ was made available in all 44 stores across 92 handsets / cardboard devices
  • Over 2,600 children brought their own favourite toy to life with Microsoft’s ‘Monty’s Magical Toy Machine’, which equates to 5 scans an hour across the 7 weeks
  • Commercially, Monty the Penguin helped John Lewis deliver a bumper Christmas with sales up 5.5% YoY vs. a market increase of only 1.5% (source: British Retail Consortium).

Week Four- Sony CHAPPiE

CHAPPiE is a movie released by Sony Pictures, centred on Chappie, a police droid who is stolen and given new programming. Effectively born again with artificial intelligence, Chappie was raised from a ‘baby’ to think and feel for himself in the impressionable underbelly of Johannesburg. What impact would nature and nurture have on his upbringing, and could his creator rescue him from becoming the very problem he was initially created to police?

chappie_countdown_01 (2) (2)

Our challenge

We were given two marketing goals – demonstrate a point of differentiation between CHAPPiE and the cornucopia of other robot movie releases, and to ground the story of CHAPPiE in a way that our young male audience can connect with.


The motifs of CHAPPiE concentrated on the idea of self-expression. What do we learn from our surroundings (both personal and physical) and what impact does that have on who we are and who we become. When developing as human beings, how do we outwardly express ourselves as the existential sum of our learned parts? We took the idea of self-expression and looked at how our young male target audience express themselves in the real world. Our chosen method had to align with the themes of CHAPPiE but needed to remain grounded in a way that delivered against one of the key goals. By talking to our target audience and looking closely at the themes of the movie, it became clear that graffiti and street-art were the most interlinked expressive forms of creative output we could use in our marketing and media.

Europe’s largest piece of shareable graffiti artSony Pics - Chappie - Use of Social Media - Image 2

Our solution was to build Europe’s largest shareable piece of graffiti art – a 60 feet by 10 feet piece of art created by professional artists using the themes within the movie itself. The artwork was made up of 600 individual canvasses that, when completed, could be dismantled and shared with others – mirroring the theme that we are all just a sum of our learned parts; a canvas on which the world paints itself. However, the artwork itself would only become relevant with the involvement of some key social influencers to let everyone know about it.

Creating noise

An experiential event such as ours existed within a small space for a relatively short time, therefore for it to be relevant we needed a lot of people to know about it quickly. We ran a live-stream of the creation, and eventual destruction, of our artwork via Twitch, played out to core gaming fans who were able to prove had a higher propensity to watch sci-fi movies than the average cinema-goer. We invited 14 of YouTube’s most creative influencers from around Europe to help produce the artwork, whilst recording and posting about their time with us to fans throughout their social channels. At the end of the evening, the giant piece of graffiti art was taken apart and shared amongst the YouTube influencers who gave the pieces away to their fans.

“I can’t believe how this has progressed, from an idea to the event and the huge reach it has had. I couldn’t be prouder of the program and the team. We risked a lot to get this off the ground and it paid off in a big way. I want to thank everyone involved for all of your hard work, dedication, creativity and most of all spirit of true partnership to make this happen. The Chappie event has set the standard for what all of the markets worldwide want to be a part of going forward.” – Aaron Wahle – SVP International Digital Marketing

The results

Sony Pics - Chappie - Use of Social Media - Social Domination - Image 1

The first-of-its-kind campaign delivered more live-streams of the artwork being produced than the live-stream of the Amazing Spider-Man 2 premiere. We were able to capture our target audience’s imagination in a way that helped double the film’s unaided awareness levels versus the genre average for that time period and as importantly demonstrated, to Sony Pictures, OMD’s credentials in being a true marketing-performance partner.


Week Three- McDonald’s Top Chef

By OMD Spainimage 4

The challenge

In Spain the Quick Service Restaurant category faces a huge lack of differentiation due to aggressive communication centered on price, creating the battle of the €1 promotions. Yet despite low prices consumers still want more for their money. Consumers are hungry for added value and far from impressed with ordinary promotions. Therefore, we challenged McDonald’s to strengthen the communication of their premium products through innovation and quality, leaving the €1 battle behind.

Top Chef

The idea was to create a brand new burger right in front of the consumer’s eyes, promoting McDonald’s commitment to innovation and quality. Our objective was to tell the whole story from the very beginning with authentic and credible people up till the selection process when a new McDonald’s product would be born.

We created a story told in a natural, non-intrusive way that linked to the Spanish food culture. We found the perfect laboratory to create this innovation: the most watched TV contest for professional Chefs, called “Top Chef”. Top Chef is the most watched cooking show for professional chefs in Spain and, since its first season, has maintained the highest audience numbers during prime time. For McDonald’s it was the perfect place to gain credibility around quality and innovation while being closely connected to a user with the same interest and passion around food.


Making the vision a reality in under 24 hours

The eight competitive chefs faced a challenge to create the most delicious burger ever, whilst using any ingredients they wanted. At the same time McDonald’s accepted the challenge of turning the winning creation into a commercial product right after the show, and without knowing which recipe would make it to their restaurants, this was a great risk for the brand.

The 20-minute branded TV content was a springboard to launch the new product nation-wide, 24 hours later. What’s more, all viewers who voted for the winning creation, through our specially designed app, were invited to try out the burger the very next day.

With the Jury

The results

The results were outstanding for both McDonald’s and the category as a whole. From an estimated 4% increase in sales, the burger exceeded all expectations with sales reaching 2.5 times higher in just six days, accounting for 10.1% of all McDonald’s products sold.

Five weeks later sales kept rising at 6.5%, a rate 2.5% higher than predicted.

Brand awareness increased 15% compared to the 4 previous weeks and, after the show, McDonald’s reached 74% brand recall with an 88% buying intention.

Week Two- 7Up Wall of Music

As part of 7Up’s relaunch campaign, we wanted to create buzz around the brand’s new positioning by bringing to life what 7up stands for in an interactive way. We wanted people to experience the brand’s purpose of “Originality to spread the positive beat” in a surprising, engaging manner.


Our insight

The unstable geo-political situation in the Middle East has hit youth the hardest. The economy is sinking, jobs are scarce and the overall confidence in a better future has never been weaker.

In Lebanon, the economic situation is equally grim with unemployment reaching an all-time high of 35%. Yet, Lebanon proves to be the most positive country in our region, fuelled by its relentless hope in the future, its ability to turn the negative into positive – just by looking at things in a different light. Lebanon presented the perfect premise for the launch of 7Up’s new positioning that revolves around acts of originality to spread positivity and courage.

Our research showed that 7Up was lacking a deeper connection with the youth, mainly caused by the ‘functional’ perception the brand had gained throughout the years: the ultimate Lemon and Lime refresher. Our challenge was to do something different that would stand out, create buzz and perpetuate a positive impression on our audience.

A day to remember

April 13th marks Remembrance Day in Lebanon, the 40th anniversary of the civil war that tore the country apart for 15 years. The bullet-riddled walls that people walk by every day in Beirut are a grim reminder of the difficult and violent past.

In a region where the sounds of bullets are growing louder and louder, 7Up wanted to inspire people to look at these walls in a whole new light. We knew that Facebook and YouTube command the highest view and engagement rates in the region when it comes to videos. Moreover, videos perform best when uploaded on their respective channels. Our aim was to counter all the war-related content found on social media in the region with a message of peace, love and music.

The Wall of Music

 We went to the green line conflict zone that separated West and East Beirut and created a very special wall: The Wall of Music. The Wall of Music was installed in Beirut Souks, depicting painted musical lines over a bullet-ridden wall with motion-activated sensors that interacted and activated with passers-by to unleash an uplifting melody, transforming bullet holes into musical notes. We then invited the band Bel Arabi to compose a song to commemorate the day, as the crowds started singing along ‘no more wars, no more bullets, just the sound of music, the sound of hope’.


A documented online film capturing the people’s interaction with the Wall of Music and went viral to spread positivity in the whole region. We utilised keyword targeting with terms like “bullets” and “civil war” to reach people searching for war-related material online and provided them with a positive response. We uploaded two separate copies (English and Arabic) on YouTube and Facebook and pushed out the videos with paid media support to reach critical mass.

The results:

The activation reached over 1.1 million people and the video was viewed over 646,000 times. With the total population of Lebanon being only 4 million, our video reached almost 28% of the population!

Consumers experienced the brand positioning in an interactive way and we achieved 97% positive sentiment across all mentions. Moreover, our Brand Index also reported positive results with a 65% increase in buzz and 47% increase in positive reputation. Word of mouth around this positive activation rose by 46%. With regards to earned media, the execution received more than $222,000 in added value.

Finally, the lingering sound of bullets was replaced by a more positive beat, making Remembrance Day this year truly a day to remember.

The 7Up Wall of Music campaign was a great collaboration between Impact BBDO Dubai and OMD MENA.

Week One- Channel 4 Humans

By Claire Dean, Strategy Director OMD UK, and Chris Evans, Business Director OMD UK

Humans was the brand new drama from Channel 4 that imagined a world where synthetic humans (“synths”) are the new must-have household gadget. It asked what it means to be human – if synths can drive a car and raise a child, what is our role in the world?
Humans Channel 4 - Archway

Our challenge was to demonstrate the show’s appeal beyond the sci-fi geek and get people to tune in. We needed to do this and stay true to Channel 4’s ‘challenger’ remit of disrupting the status quo.

Our insight

We realised that the issues that surfaced in the show were already attracting heated public discussion, with commentary from the likes of Professor Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk on the risks of artificial intelligence fuelling the debate further.

The idea of synths playing a role in real human life evoked a very emotional response.

Our challenge was to take this cerebral theoretical debate into the mainstream, make it real, and absolutely relevant so that ordinary people weighed in with their viewpoints and tuned in every week to watch.

Making Persona Synthetics a reality

The solution was to launch Persona Synthetics, the fictional company from the show, as a real business, promoting synths as genuine products available for purchase.

To ‘launch’ the Persona Synthetics brand in under eight weeks was a near impossible task. This wasn’t just about planning and booking media: we assembled a SWAT team with key people from across OMD UK and Fuse, partnering with Channel 4 Marketing, 4creative, and our media partners Microsoft and eBay – as well as PR teams from all parties.

Bringing it to life

It started with a Persona Synthetics TV advert, free from any Channel 4 branding. Social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook supported the belief that Persona Synthetics were real, and then came the physical heart of our campaign: a flagship store on London’s Regent Street.

The storefront dominated the high street, sitting next door to the world famous Hamley’s toy shop and across the road from London’s iconic Apple Store. The frontage housed two 90” digital screens which incorporated the latest Microsoft Kinect technology, allowing people to personalise synths through gesture control. We had actors posing as Persona Synthetics employees delivering synths to the store, reinforcing the illusion that these products were available to buy – right there, right then. Print, digital and social ads directed people to the shop, allowing us to behave in every way like a real retail launch.

We secured eBay as our online retail partner where we pretended to auction off two synth models. This was the first time a fictional brand has been sold on the site.

Humans Store Ad Half Page

“Convincing the nation that synthetic humans were real products available for purchase and helping to get over six million people to tune into the premiere of Humans was an incredible achievement. We were proud to work with our partners to make this campaign happen and it truly set the benchmark for advertising last year.”

Laura Ward, Channel 4 Group Marketing Manager

 The results

The rich mix of campaign elements came together beautifully to produce game-changing results: Persona Synthetics trended as the #1 search on Google and Twitter on opening weekend and within three weeks, Persona Synthetics’ website had over 1 million hits.

Most importantly, a staggering 6.1 million people tuned into episode 1, over three times our target number. Humans became Channel 4’s highest rating originated drama of all time.

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