The John Lewis advert…and no, not that one!

With under 4 weeks to go until Christmas it’s just about acceptable to start writing about it…just. Although compared to when the stores and adverts start with the festivities I’m practically in mid-February about now.

For anyone like me, that is someone who very much enjoys Christmas and everything it’s about but is more than happy to concentrate that enjoyment around the few days before and after Christmas day, then you’ll already be sick and tired of Christmas adverts. I do appreciate that this may be a niche standpoint, but I’m hoping there are others like me out there. You know, it’s not Bah Humbug, it’s more about having too much of a good thing.

Anyway, back to those annoying adverts. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t see the John Lewis advert for example. A moment in the calendar which is unfathomably becoming even more anticipated than Christmas day itself. Young and old gathered round the fire place watching an emotional story about how an incredibly rich and successful musician became incredibly rich and successful. Doesn’t this just sum up everything that Christmas is about?! No pressure parents but you do realise that you’re now obliged to fork out £800+ on a piano unless you want to bear the weight of guilt of never giving your little ‘un the chance to succeed in life forever more. A small price to pay I’m sure you’ll agree, and one that I’m sure John Lewis are hoping for too.

For every 100 emotionally compliant people who HAVE seen the John Lewis Christmas advert, there is perhaps just the 1 who has seen the ‘other’ John Lewis Christmas advert. Yet, I would argue (and I’m about to don’t worry) that the ‘other’ advert is perhaps the most interesting and relevant piece of marketing this year…

You may be aware of the ‘other’ John Lewis. In fact, the man called John Lewis who just happened to have set up his Twitter account some years ago with the handle @johnlewis. Innocently enough seeing as he lives in America. However, poor old John is bombarded on a daily basis by customers complaining (and praising it has to be said) to John Lewis (the department store). Any like-minded person would have changed their handle or simply hurled their phone into the flames or Mordor, yet @johnlewis responds with great wit and warmth to these tweets, so much so that he is a bonafide Twitter celebrity with over 61,000 followers!

This whole shebang peaked this year as Twitter commissioned an ‘alternative’ John Lewis Christmas advert, featuring the great man himself. If you’ve not seen it, it’s excellent, and can be found here;

Why is this so good? Well for one thing it’s funny and it taps into everything that makes Twitter so good (i.e. recurring jokes that never end but somehow get better) but also it fundamentally taps into a key trend that every brand, retailer, etc. is striving to nail – that of AUTHENTICITY

Authenticity is a key word for Generation Z and one with far reaching implications. Nurturing and maintaining authenticity is a sure fire way to gain credibility and loyalty from Generation. More so a lack of authenticity or worse – trying to fake it – is a one way ticket to the bottom of the pile. One of the key drivers of authenticity is trust and Generation Z are smart to the ways of social media. It’s no longer enough for a brand to have a social profile that alludes to having a personality – they can see through this façade to the inevitable hordes of interns or chatbots that are actually doing the posting. Gen Z want the real you, warts and all. This is key – they know we live in a world that isn’t perfect so to see a retailer, manufacturer or celebrity that operates within a perfect world immediately rings alarms bells and gives off an aura of inauthenticity.

27% of 18-24 year olds say that social media influences them to buy a particular product, compared to just 13% who are influenced by traditional brand adverts.

We can all be a bit more ‘Mr’ John Lewis this year – give a little bit back and have some fun, and maybe, just maybe, that’s what our kids want more than a piano.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the KAM Media Generation Z report

Blake GladmanStrategy & Insight Director

Blake Gladman

Hi, I'm Blake, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM. I look after all our research products and manage the collection and delivery of insight throughout KAM. I love long runs and good food (the perfect life balance).