Still nursing the last dregs of Summer, I was somewhat unpleasantly surprised to see that my much anticipated viewing of The Great British Bake Off last week was interrupted by a new advertisement premiere. It could only mean one thing, a John Lewis advert, always thrust into a prime time spot and accompanied by a social media fanfare.
A new John Lewis advert usually announces the start of the festive season, so it may have come as a shock to some, including myself, to see this fresh campaign within the first week of September… Had we somehow skipped Autumn and landed in late November already?
Although the advert does depict the staging of a particularly extravagant primary school play performed to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen, it was, thankfully, not the usual John Lewis christmas advert – assumably that is still to come.
This new advert was commissioned for the company’s recent rebrand: John Lewis has now become the creatively-named ‘John Lewis & Partners’, and Waitrose has now been given the equally enticing name ‘Waitrose & Partners’. This rebrand is accompanied by the axing of 270 jobs as John Lewis strips out back-office jobs in IT, finance and store security following a profit warning issued in June which stated that the company’s annual profits would be substantially lower than last year.
According to an article in The Guardian, the advert is supposed to reinforce the idea that being employee-owned makes the company different. I didn’t get that. The justification for the advert appears only in the final moments of the musical two and a half minutes, as the new logos and names appeared on-screen (it is also the first time that John Lewis and Waitrose have appeared in an advertisement together).
Although the elaborate and impressive advert may have come across as a blatant attempt to go viral, judging from responses on social media, it has been successful. Many people eagerly await the John Lewis christmas advert every year, and these individuals are likely thrilled by the company’s latest oddly-timed campaign, even more so by the prospect of two blockbuster adverts in one year. I hope the marketing team are well paid.
Although not technically a christmas advert, the fact that it depicts a school play links it irretrievably with the festive season, and it is far too early to be getting the christmas lights out. Primary school teachers across the country will be scrabbling to get their annual christmas plays together, although no ordinary nativity will be able to live up to the space-based romp that John Lewis have presented. It’s almost cruel.
It is likely that the buzz created by the strange timing of the advert may well boost its social media presence, but it does feel far too early to be indulging in christmas, no matter how captivating the advert may be.