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Definitive proof that John Lewis has Christmas advertising all wrapped up

How two snowmen, a bear and a hare, a penguin called Monty and the man on the moon captured the nation’s hearts, boosted John Lewis’s business and won the ad industry’s top accolade – the IPA Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix.


John Lewis’s blueprint for how to create Britain’s most watched, loved and profitable Christmas advertising campaigns took home the advertising industry’s top accolade, the IPA Effectiveness Awards Grand Prix, at a dazzling ceremony this evening (2nd November 2016).

The prestigious prize was awarded to John Lewis’s agencies adam&eveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD for proving how their heart-warming Christmas campaigns between 2012-2015* increased sales during the festive season by 16% on average, and produced over £8 of profit for every £1 spent. As a result, John Lewis’s annual market share has increased to 29.6%, its highest level ever.

The award-winning submission highlights the importance of the Christmas season to John Lewis’s business: it accounts for around 20% of John Lewis annual sales and 40% of profits, from which staff bonuses are generated.

To drive this growth, adam&eveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD executed a number of Christmas campaigns that created emotional rather than retail messages; ones that provided engaging stories about thoughtful giving set to carefully selected music, rather than overt selling messages and excessive references to the store or its products. They also deployed 10 key learnings crucial to the advertising success:

Why John Lewis Christmas advertising works: 10 key ingredients

1)    Make stuff people want to watch, listen to and talk about
Advertising can no longer command attention - it must earn it. If ads bore or irritate people, they will block, skip or avoid them. But if you make ads that people love, they will seek out, share and amplify them.

2)   Nothing sells quite as hard as emotion
Most advertising treats emotion as a means to an end – a way of getting the “message” across. Here, the feeling was the message. The profits generated show the power of feelings.

3)   Tell a great story, create a world
Nothing interests, involves and moves people more than a great story. Media and technology offer new, more immersive ways to tell stories. adam&eveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD drew people into the worlds they created, and then into John Lewis’s stores.

4)   Create characters that have a life of their own
Great stories have characters that live and breathe beyond their creators. The John Lewis advertising characters – such as the Bear and the Hare - came to life, in books, apps, and parodies. And when they came to life in store, they created a new revenue stream from merchandise.

5)   Creativity is not a luxury
None of this would be possible without great creative. With an ROMI of 8:1, this case proves that creativity is crucial for efficiency. 

6)   Scale matters too
Creativity increases efficiency, but effectiveness is also a numbers game. With over 2.5 billion impressions, the creative got the exposure it needed to create fame.

7)    TV is still indispensable
Only TV can deliver audiences on that scale. TV remains the core, and continues to deliver outstanding ROI.

8)   Online makes TV work harder
Online channels extend reach, deepen involvement, and stimulate sales directly.

9)   Fame is a virtuous circle
The more famous the ads become, the more exposure they get. The more exposure they get, the more famous they become 

10)    Dedication to effectiveness and evaluation
To keep the wheel of fame turning requires the delivery of great campaigns every year. That means continually evaluating what you do, and trying to make each campaign work harder than the last.

Says Chairman of Judges Dame Dianne Thompson, Former CEO, Camelot; “This is the most high-profile marketing campaign in the UK, at the most commercially important time of year. Each new John Lewis Christmas campaign is anticipated and talked about by pretty much everyone. But it isn’t just ‘nice to watch’, it isn’t just hot air; it halts the nation, it has become part of our culture, and most importantly, it drives business success. Congratulations to adam&eveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD for creating a masterclass on how to build brands in the 21st Century.”

Says Convenor of Judges Bridget Angear, Joint Chief Strategy Officer, AMV BBDO: “The John Lewis advertising has a commercial, social and cultural impact not just on the business itself, but on the nation as a whole. adam&EveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD are thoroughly deserving of the Grand Prix, and for anyone wanting to know how to make effective advertising that will transform their business I urge them to watch and learn.”

*John Lewis Christmas campaigns between 2012-2015:

2012: The Long Wait told the story of a Snowman’s epic journey to find the perfect Christmas gifts for his Snowwoman.

2013: The Bear and the Hare told the story about a Hare who thoughtfully gave his friend, a hibernating Bear, an alarm clock, so that he wouldn’t miss the Christmas fun.

2014: Monty the penguin told the story of a boy and his toy penguin, Monty. Seen through the eyes of the child, Monty comes to life. But Monty wants someone to love, so the boy gives him a companion called Mabel for Christmas.

2015: The Man in The Moon tells the story of loneliness. A little girl looking through her telescope spies an old man, living on his own on the moon. Her thoughtful Christmas gift is a telescope, sent by balloon, so that he can see he’s not really alone.

IPA Effectiveness Awards 2016 results

The IPA Effectiveness Awards are the world’s most rigorous industry competition that rewards campaigns that demonstrate their marketing payback. In total, 11 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze prizes, along with nine special prizes were awarded at a black tie gala ceremony in London last night (2nd November).

In addition to the Grand Prix, adam&EveDDB also picked up the gong for Effectiveness Company of the Year; a Gold for John Lewis; a Gold for Save the Children campaign, a Silver for John Lewis Insurance and Wall’s, and a Bronze award for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK.

The full 2016 IPA Effectiveness Awards winners list:

Special Prizes:

Grand Prix – sponsored by Thinkbox
John Lewis, The gift that keeps on giving: John Lewis Christmas advertising, 2012 – 2015 by adam&eveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD

Best Commercial Effectiveness for Good (President’s Prize) – sponsored by Outsmart
Dove, Beautifully Effective: How Dove turned cultural resonance into ROI by Ogilvy

Effectiveness Network of the Year

Effectiveness Company of the Year

Best Dedication to Effectiveness (The Simon Broadbent Prize) – sponsored by Radiocentre

Best Multi-Market – sponsored by Ipsos Connect
Snickers, Thinking like a Hollywood blockbuster by AMV BBDO

Best Small Budget – sponsored by MARSH
Narellan Pools, Diving into big data for Narellan Pools by AFFINITY

Best International (The Tim Broadbent Prize) – sponsored by Warc
Speeding (New Zealand Transport Authority), Mistakes by Clemenger BBDO Wellington

The Channon Prize for Best New Learning – sponsored by Newsworks
The Economist, Raising eyebrows and subscriptions by Proximity BBDO London and UM London

Gold winners:

  • Art Fund, The art of framing by 101 London
  • Direct Line, Direct Line: We Solve Problems by Direct Line Group
  • Guinness, An effectiveness story Made of More by AMV BBDO
  • John Lewis, The gift that keeps on giving: John Lewis Christmas advertising, 2012 – 2015 by adam&eveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD
  • Macmillan, Macmillan Cancer Support: Making sure no one faces cancer alone, today or tomorrow by VCCP
  • Narellan Pools, Diving into big data for Narellan Pools by AFFINITY
  • Save the Children, Making embarrassing knitwear into something to be proud of by adam&eveDDB
  • Snickers, Thinking like a Hollywood blockbuster by AMV BBDO
  • Speeding (New Zealand Transport Agency), Mistakes by Clemenger BBDO Wellington
  • Stoptober, Stoptober: a radical new way to get England to quit smoking by 23red and MEC London
  • The Economist, Raising eyebrows and subscriptions by Proximity BBDO London and UM London

Silver winners:

  • Dove, Beautifully Effective: How Dove turned cultural resonance into ROI by Ogilvy
  • John Lewis Insurance, The power of true brand extension marketing by adam&eveDDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD
  • Lidl, How Lidl found itself atop the grocer's Christmas tree by TBWA\London
  • L'Oreal Age Perfect, How L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect transformed its fortunes by showing older women they’re still ‘worth it’ by McCann London
  • Pepsi Max, Unbelievable by AMV BBDO
  • Plusnet, The pride of Yorkshire: how Plusnet's adverts transformed its fortunes, against ever-increasing odds by Karmarama and Maxus
  • Sainsbury's, Christmas is for Sharing by AMV BBDO
  • Sensodyne, Solving Problems, Not Selling Benefits by Grey London
  • Sixt, How Sixt challenged car hire culture, and changed its fortunes by Grey London
  • The Guardian & Observer, Time for transformation by BBH London
  • The Royal British Legion, Fortune favours the brave by RKCR/Y&R
  • Three, Sorry (not sorry) for all the holiday spam by Wieden+Kennedy London
  • Wall's, Getting the long tail wagging again: How Wall’s said ‘Goodbye’ to a serious business challenge by adam&eveDDB

Bronze winners:

  • Coors Light, Van Damme good results: how Jean Claude transformed the fortunes of Coors Light by VCCP and ZenithOptimedia
  • Costa, Creating a nation of coffee lovers by Karmarama
  • Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle: Engineering Success by OMD UK
  • first direct, Made for millennials by J. Walter Thompson
  • First4Adoption, Start your adoption story by Kindred
  • Kenco, Coffee Vs Gangs: How a strong brand purpose changed lives in Honduras and changed fortunes for Kenco by J. Walter Thompson
  • Mattessons, The Mattesson'aissance by Saatchi & Saatchi
  • McVitie's, McVitie's: Waking the sleeping giant by Grey London
  • Officeworks, How Officeworks realised its own big idea by AJF Partnership and Initiative
  • Santander, From “who?” to hero: how Santander became king of the switchers by The Engine Group
  • Spies Travels, Do it for Denmark and Do it for Mom by Robert/Boisen & Likeminded and Spies Travels
  • The Conservative Party, Winning the benefit of the doubt by M&C Saatchi
  • UK Government, The missing millions - giving expats their voice by Ogilvy
  • Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, From manufacturer to service partner: How Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles did more with less by adam&eveDDB
  • Volvo, “Or by”: how two little words made Volvo’s safety matter again by Grey London

The 2016 Awards are partnered with Thinkbox, Newsworks, OutSmart, Radiocentre, Warc, Ipsos Connect and sponsored by Marsh.

To view further details about the winning campaigns and additional effectiveness content including what the judges thought, visit or WARC. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using #IPAEff.

The IPA is also publishing Advertising Works 23, which shows how marketing communications have helped organisations as diverse as Guinness, The Economist and Save the Children translate big ideas into impressive business results.

The IPA also runs the Eff Test, a qualification designed to help planners identify and evaluate the planning and effectiveness measurement techniques that are central to understanding how agencies can create effective campaigns for their clients. 


Last updated 03/11/2016

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