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!
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.
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!
2014 was the Christmas of Monty
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).