Writing a good Christmas ad is hard? Try writing ABOUT Christmas ads, one month after all Christmas ads have been released, all industry publications have dissected them at length, and many bright industry folks have already spent hours over-analysing them with attempted objectivity.
So if I’m to bore you with a new piece about this (most probably) exhausted topic, at least I shall keep it reasonably short, and completely subjective.
From this year’s sparkly crop of Christmas campaigns, the only one that really made me jealous was not the Elton John Lewis one (though I find it absolutely beautifully crafted, I adore the song, I shared it on my social channels, and I did cry towards the end), or the Sainsbury’s charming school show (I mean… is there anything cuter than the plug?! My new favourite example for “There are no small parts, only small actors”). The campaign that provoked my honest professional envy is Twitter’s, featuring @johnlewis, a real man and #NotARetailStore.
I’m so delighted that Mr Lewis from Virginia US has finally got his own Christmas campaign as Twitter’s star. He truly deserves it, as he is probably the loveliest and most gracious man online. Though unintentionally inconvenienced by @JLandpartners every year, especially around holidays when the famous Christmas ads are released, he’s finding the good humour to reply in a patient and delightfully funny way to many of the hundreds of tweets he receives by accident.
The story of Mr Lewis is not new. He gets a bit of coverage at Christmas every year, for some time now. I find it therefore so clever that The Romans (the creative agency behind the campaign) took full advantage of this predictable news story (almost as predictable as Christmas itself) that provided a suitable hook for a relevant and creative response for Twitter UK, boosting the company’s visibility. What the agency and its client did is news jacking at its very best: earning tons of media attention on the back of a bigger, more famous topic. No wonder that the agency is a PR firm (not an advertising one): issue jump and rapid response have always been an integral part of every smart PR agency’s tool-kit, and it’s now a very sought-after integrated marketing approach. You may argue that the craft of the ad is not 100% perfect, not to the level of Elton John Lewis or Sainsbury’s school play ads – but I’d say it’s the right level of craft. I especially enjoyed the little references to the previous @JLandpartners campaigns, and I appreciated (and I bet the client appreciated it as well) the smart use of an undoubtedly smaller budget (another PR speciality).
Mr Lewis has had the Twitter handle @johnlewis since 2007 – that’s 11 years of online tolerance and wit. So I’ll end here, leaving you with this fact from which the little (or bigger) troll in all of us could learn. Happy holidays!
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