#EltonJohnLewis - Love It or Hate It?

Opinion and Insight 105 Add to collection
The team at marketing agency Realia react to this year's John Lewis Christmas campaign
#EltonJohnLewis - Love It or Hate It?

It’s that time of year again… The Christmas adverts have started appearing on our screens and the one we’ve all been waiting for has been released - the John Lewis TV ad. For those (very few) who haven’t seen it, the two-minute ad tells the story of how Sir Elton John received his first piano as a Christmas gift, and how his life has changed since that moment. (You can watch it here!)

Within minutes of the advert being released, users on social media erupted and shared their views and emotions. Like Marmite, some people loved it, and some hated it - but what did the Realia team think of this year’s ad? Have a read below.

Paul Williamson, Managing Director

“You would expect there to be exceptional production values and an attempt at a tear jerker – it’s the John Lewis way. But to what end? To promote Elton’s biopic? I am always guarded about using personalities in advertising – it’s often too much about them and not enough about the brand – and in this case the brand has become Bernie Taupin whilst Elton grabs the headlines.”

Nicola Williamson, Quality Assurance Director

“As a lover of traditions, Christmas will not be the same without a John Lewis animation. As a toddler’s mum, I love the sentiment of a quality gift for life and the start of something special. Elton John fans will love it!”

Paul Newbold, Creative Director

“As a retail company, John Lewis puts so much pressure on themselves to produce something special every Christmas. It now seems to be the expectation from the public, and we all wait in anticipation every year to find out what magical Christmas treat they are going to bestow upon us. But in truth, by doing this they have become quite complacent. To spend £10 million on 'Elton John’s memories' as a child seems quite unbelievable. Do we really care what the millionaire Elton John got up to as a child at Christmas?! Is it the intention for John Lewis to try and sell hundreds of pounds worth of pianos to the general public? Their story telling is still second to none with lovely warm vibes and that general feeling of happiness, but as far as I’m concerned, their advertising now always seems to be directed on a more personal level - hoping that someone can relate to it. Still, only 365 days to wait to see if they can pull a better one out of the bag, here’s hoping!”

Tom Homewood, Art Director

“There are some technically amazing parts of the advert where old footage of Sir Elton John is used in new scenes, but overall the advert doesn’t have the heart of previous John Lewis Christmas campaigns.”

Stephanie Turner, Account Manager

“Watching John Lewis’ Christmas advert in isolation from some of the current negativity (‘it’s a plug for Elton’s new film and farewell tour!’, ‘not Christmassy enough!’), can leave one feeling inspired, when you begin to understand the deeper meaning behind the narrative and look past the façade of Elton’s celebrity status that we are initially presented with. The story of a little boy with a musical passion, who follows his dreams and reaches the pinnacle of his career is precious in itself (generally speaking, whether or not you like Elton!), but the underlying message of how a gift at Christmas can become so much more than its simple materialistic value is powerful and uplifting. Yes, it may not be a shove-it-in-your-face, HELLO IT’S CHRISTMAS(!) like previous John Lewis ads, but this is a subtle demonstration of how the giving of one thoughtful gift can create a pivotal moment in one’s life which in turn goes on to sculpt the rest of their years.”

Marianna Jendrolova, Account Executive

“As expected, John Lewis’ 2018 Christmas campaign has already provoked a lot of reactions and even though the feedback is mixed, this year’s campaign stole the show in terms of warm memories, fulfilment of a young boy’s dream, and it serves as a reminder of those special moments when we give or receive the perfect gift, that will be treasured forever.”

Olivia Miller, Senior PR Account Manager

“John Lewis has been known for years as the pioneer for Christmas adverts, and with other retailers giving them a run for their money (excuse the pun) they needed to try something new. The Elton ad certainly stands out differently, and I think it will touch a nostalgic audience – but did the narrative really need Elton? He has overshadowed the message a little for me. Nevertheless, I like the PR stunts John Lewis are supporting the campaign with and I’m sure they’ll sell a few pianos!”

Cara Rimmer, PR & Social Media Executive

“I love John Lewis as a company and I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Christmas ad since the Oxford Street store temporarily changed their name to ‘John’, as part of their teaser campaign. It was the first thing I clicked on when I turned on my phone that morning and I have to say, I was left with mixed emotions. As soon as I saw Sir Elton John on the piano, I was slightly confused – I thought I was watching a trailer for a film of his life story. As the ad moved on, I could see the sentiment behind it and the ending definitely tugs at the heart strings, but it just didn’t feel like John Lewis. I understand it is targeting its audience and I guess that’s the way they wanted to go this year, alongside the rebrand of John Lewis and Partners – but bring back Moz the Monster, I say!”


What did you think of the 2018 John Lewis advert? Tweet us at @RealiaMarketing and let us know!

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