As it is the 12th day of the 12th month of the 12th year of the 21st century, we thought we’d mark the occasion with another blog post. Just in case the Mayan calendar is correct and the world ends on the Friday, 21 December and we don’t have time before then to pen another post.
We wrote an article last month that looked at Christmas TV ads and one of 2012’s festive offerings has been hitting the headlines over the past week. John Lewis pulled off another great piece of storytelling this year with its Snowman setting off to buy the perfect present to keep his Snow-lady warm. And six weeks after first airing it is still filling column inches and sparking debate. So does it deserve a place alongside Guinness’ Horses and Surfers, Smash’s Martians, BT’s ‘Ology’ and The Yellow Page’s JR Hartley in the UK TV advert hall of fame?
Top of the hit parade
It is not often that the sound track from a TV advert reaches the number one spot in the UK singles chart solely as a result of being used in a campaign. That however is what has happened to the soundtrack of John Lewis’ Christmas advert. The retailer very cleverly spotted the potential of Gabrielle Aplin’s cover of the 1984 Frankie Goes To Hollywood hit ‘The Power of Love’ and released it as a single and on Sunday (9th December) it reached to the top of the charts.
The haunting reworking of the classic is the 20-year-old Indie-folk singer’s first number one and also the first number one music hit for the high street chain. It has previously released the soundtracks to its festive campaigns as singles, but they’ve not had the success that this year’s one has. ‘The Power of Love’ is being tipped as a Christmas number one, but it will have to do battle with this year’s X-Factor winner, James Arthur. His single, ‘Impossible’, is on track to be the fastest-selling debut single of any X-Factor winner and sold 187,000 copies by midnight on Monday – just over 24 hours after he won the show. The fight for the festive top spot then could be a close run thing.
Called The Journey, the John Lewis advert has been viewed on YouTube more than 2.6million times, while Gabrielle Aplin’s single has clocked up more than 3million views on the video sharing site.
Defying gender stereotyping
The yuletide campaigns from Asda and Morrison’s were both criticised for being sexist and saw complaints lodged with the Advertising Standards Authority by disgruntled viewers. Some people, though, have been irked by the John Lewis advert, saying it doesn’t truly reflect Christmas shopping patterns because it is the females who do all the shopping. If it was to truly reflect men’s mad Christmas Eve dash round the stores then the Snowman wouldn’t make it back in time for Christmas Day and his Snow-wife would be left to brave the elements on her tod, watched by some unhappy children.
If the gender stereotyping is to be believed, and followed, then on Christmas Day the Snow-wife would smile and say thank you to the Snowman, before asking if he’d kept the receipt so she could return. And it is this idea that has sparked some chatter online. It is being claimed that John Lewis will follow up on its pre-Christmas blockbuster with an inspired Boxing Day sequel that promotes the store’s returns policy. The advert will of course be vying for our attention alongside the plethora of TV adverts that appear on Christmas Day and Boxing Day from furniture stores and Next promoting the huge discounts to be had in their sales.
Sources claim that the Snow-lady will set off on her own journey across the fields to ‘Two Tribes’ – another Frankie Goes To Hollywood hit – in order to exchange the hat, scarf and gloves for a Kenwood ice cream maker, which she really wanted. Are the rumours true? We’ll have to wait until Boxing Day to find out! You can read more about the rumours here.
Sincerest form of flattery
Perhaps the strongest acknowledgement that an advert is a success is when it is imitated by another brand. Aldi has jumped on the John Lewis Snowman bandwagon with a parody of The Journey in its latest Christmas advert. Featuring a cake decoration Snowman and Snow-lady sitting atop a Christmas cake extolling the virtues of an own brand bottle of champagne compared to a premium version, it pokes fun at the high street retailer’s 90-second campaign. In addition, Aldi’s 20-second advert injects some humour by suggesting that the Snow-wife wasn’t very impressed by her husband’s choice of present, adding further fuel to the Boxing Day campaign rumours.
Is it a great ad then?
Well, six weeks on from its first airing the advert is still being talked about; the sound track has reached number one; it has sparked plenty of debate about the shopping patterns of different sexes; created plenty of online chatter, including rumours of a follow-up; and is being mimicked by others. So if it has achieved all that, in addition to being beautifully and creatively shot, then here at Innes Associates we think it deserves a place in the TV advertising hall of fame. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Finally, just to confirm and put you at ease, governments around the globe have issued statements verifying the world won’t cease to exist on Saturday, 22 December. Further reassurance comes from Mayan expert Leonzo Barreno of Saskatchewan, Canada, who in a Daily Mail article stated that it just marks the start of a new Mayan calendar and not the end of life was we know it. So we can all sleep well on the winter solstice in the knowledge that our surroundings won’t look any different when we wake from our slumber on the 22nd.