How did John Lewis 2020 Christmas ad fare?

Give A Little Love

John Lewis

4.4

It’s the one everyone’s been waiting for… the 2020 John Lewis and Waitrose Christmas ad. The JL ad has seen highs and lows over the years – last year’s “Excitable Edgar” was a beautiful execution of their classic formula and topped our Christmas Star Rating charts. This year, though, John Lewis gave us something different – an animated ad cleverly stitching a variety of styles and scenes together, linked by the motif of a heart and by “Give A Little Love”, an original song. So how did it perform?

The ad scored 4.4-Stars on our Test Your Ad system – showing strong long-term potential. That’s not up there with Monty The Penguin or Excitable Edgar, but it’s still a good performance, on a level with past JL work like Buster the trampolining dog. It performs very well on short-term Spike, with a score of 1.37, partly because the ad’s mazy narrative has so many little moments of sadness resolving into happiness, making for an emotionally dynamic piece of work.

John Lewis and Waitrose deserve applause for trying something different, but there’s a reason the classic formula has given them 5-Star ads (and a huge audience) in the past. As Orlando Wood explained in his IPA EffWeek talk this year, the way to get attention and engage the right brain is to include character, incident and place in your ads. “Give A Little Love” is stuffed with incident, but swings wildly between characters and places. The result is an ad that’s rich, complex and beautifully crafted, but never quite builds the level of viewer happiness needed to really hit home emotionally. It’s a buffet of delicious party snacks, not a fully satisfying Christmas dinner.

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