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Naughty or Nice. John Lewis Christmas Advert
Business & Finance Series: Expert Comment

Cass Marketing faculty comment on John Lewis' new Christmas Ad

The Cass marketing faculty comment on John Lewis' latest Christmas advert, 'Buster the Boxer'

by Kyla Njoku (Senior Communications Officer)

Caroline WiertzCaroline Wiertz, Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean for Entrepreneurship, said:

"The new John Lewis Christmas ad hopes to continue the overwhelming success of 2014’s Monty the Penguin. They are back to an animal theme which worked well for Monty and for the Bear and the Hare (2013). By having different animals, who should be enemies, enjoying the trampoline together, the theme seems to play at the possibility to overcome differences, which is uplifting in today's climate of political division.

"However, Buster the Boxer just doesn’t elicit the same strong emotions as Monty did. This emotional connection is something of an expected trademark of the John Lewis Christmas ad, and this year it’s lacking, and overall, underwhelming."

Tom van Laer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, said:

Tom van Laer“This year’s ad shows the typical hero's journey: the dog, Buster, is called to adventure by seeing
the young girl jumping on bed. This call to adventure is then strengthened by seeing the other animals having fun on the trampoline, while he is prevented from joining in. Cue Christmas day; once the door finally opens, our canine hero gets to go on his adventure.

“It is a nice ad, but rather underwhelming because it’s missing the full circle aspect required in storytelling. Where is the return of a now wiser Buster? Where is the homecoming? The John Lewis snowman ad from 2012 demonstrated this quality very successfully, making it transporting.”

Stephanie Feiereisen Stephanie Feiereisen, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, said:

“John Lewis' Christmas ad two years ago (Monty the penguin) was built in three stages: hooking opening, warm and engaging storyline and strong ending, all supported by music to enhance emotional response.

“While this year's advert is beautifully executed, the ad about Monty the penguin was more emotionally engaging. In particular, the ad ending was extremely engaging, with a surprise reveal, which was unique and impactful: we learned that Monty was not a real penguin but a cuddly toy, and that the boy's and the penguin's adventures were the fruit of the boy's imagination.

“Endings really matter, and a strong ending, with a big reveal, is somewhat lacking in this year's advert.”

Oguz A. AcarOguz A. Acar, Lecturer in Marketing, said:

“I am glad to see that John Lewis have gone for positive emotions this year - last year's advert was heart-wrenching. However, I also think that the intensity of emotions is not as strong as previous years. I don’t see much of emotional highs and lows this year that we’re accustomed to, (the Monty ad, for example, was a real emotional roller coaster in my opinion).

"Bottom line: it is a nice ad and I think many people will find it cute, but it does not really meet high expectations we now have for John Lewis’ Christmas adverts."

Marius Luedicke, Reader in Marketing, said:

"The Moon ad of last year had a cultural branding story line to it: the old and lonely man on the moon is physically (yet also highly symbolically) distanced from the world, is found by a child that cares deeply about him and tries to reach him. The message: "show someone they’re loved this Christmas" is a heart-warming reminder of inter-generational distances these days. 

"The Buster add has a much less positive undertone: It conveys a sense of "take what isn’t yours", "enjoy yourself alone" as well as "grab the little girl’s present in front of her eyes just for yourself“. Buster is quite a sad, egoistic dog, (almost a "Trumpian“ one - if that is a word already). This message is entirely out of sync with John Lewis’ brand and also a quite unexpected iteration of their iconic Christmas advertisements series."

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