Nov. 20 - UK retailer John Lewis has a hit on its hands. Its Christmas advert - a moving cartoon story - has gone viral on the web. As Melanie Ralph reports the retailer is embracing a new trend - product-free advertisements that utilize social media.
The bear and the hare...the stars of John Lewis' Christmas ad this year It's been an internet phenomenon with millions of you tube hits Not to mention hundreds of thousands of online shares...which some advertising analysts eye as the true barometer of success. John Lewis' Marketing Director Craig Inglis (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) Craig Inglis, Marketing Director, John Lewis "We've seen a ramp up each year that we've advertised, and the Snowman was huge last year and we had our little boy Lewis the year before that and its just got bigger and bigger and the numbers this year have just been off the scale. Uniquely, the alarm clock is the only product shown in the advert, but shoppers are still flocking to the store. Since the financial crisis retailers have been hit hard - not John Lewis. Sales have risen consistently since it started its movie-esque ad campaigns in 2009 Its hard to tell exactly how much of that success is down to the new ad's. But Advertising executive Hamish Pringles is convinced emotional advertising is the way forward: (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) Hamish Pringle, 23 Red, saying (English): "The return on investment that John Lewis has achieved is about five pounds for every pound spent on advertising and communications. If you then focus in on the Christmas campaigns its more like 9 pounds for every one pound spent. So this has been a true phenomenal pay back in terms of advertising they've done and is a vindication of the power of emotional communications as opposed to just rational and showing people products." Advertising your business is becoming a complex task. Gone are the days that a retailer can just parade their goods in front of you, throwing in the odd celebrity for good measure. The overwhelming response to John Lewis' Christmas advert this year shows that consumers are demanding and expecting more. Whether you know it or not these retail businesses are tapping into your inner emotions in a bid to influence where and what you buy. And we're falling for it. John Lewis didn't increase its 7 million pound Christmas ad budget this year. And social media expert Phil Townend says these days advertising doesn't need to cost millions or take months to plan. (SOUNDBITE) (English): PHIL TOWNEND, EUROPEAN MANAGING DIRECTOR OF UNRULY MEDIA, SAYING: "As we saw in with Oreo's in the U.S. when the lights went out at the Superbowl, Oreo's then released that Tweet saying 'You can still dunk in the dark.' Fantastic piece of real time marketing using Twitter that was planned within seconds and somebody executed it." Advertising is, of course, a mix of elements and John Lewis is certainly using its new stars to full effect. Its ads are now an event to watch out for each Christmas. No doubt that's something other retailers - and their advertising agencies - are looking at carefully.