In 2015 John Lewis and Age UK tackled the subject no one wanted to talk about, especially at Christmas – loneliness. In a ground-breaking partnership, Manning Gottlieb OMD activated the nation and inspired people to do good, helping the millions of older people who can go a month without talking to anyone, to have a Christmas they deserve.
“Did you see the John Lewis Christmas advert?”
John Lewis is an institution that over 150 years, has become one of the UK’s most loved and trusted retailer brands. A large part of this is down to the emotionally driven Christmas advertising. Their campaigns have had such an impact that the media have coined their ad launch, “The Start of Christmas”. The pressure’s on to raise the bar every year and make each John Lewis campaign more famous than the last.
The campaigns embody the spirit of Christmas, making people feel the warmth of family and the endearing spirit of thoughtful gifting. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for everyone, as 500,000 older people will spend Christmas day alone, a challenge Age UK know all too well. This year Manning Gottlieb wanted to use the emotional power of advertising, not just to make people feel good, but to also do good, whilst growing commercial success.
The Brand Idea
The idea was simple; to create not one, but two interlinked Christmas ads, each showing polar opposite views of the Christmas experience.
The first would launch our ‘feel-good’ story: a little girl looking through her telescope spies on an old man, living on his own on the moon. Her thoughtful Christmas gift is a telescope, sent by balloon, so he can see he’s not really alone. The tagline “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas” paved the way for a national charity partner: Age UK.
For Age UK, John Lewis made a second TV ad, showing the old man on the ‘Man On The Moon’ film set. As filming wraps up, he’s left alone and forgotten, to remind us of the problem of loneliness amongst the aged. This would become Manning Gottlieb’s call-to-action to activate the nation in support of older people at Christmas.
The Partnership Strategy
The desire was not simply to brand John Lewis’ campaign with a charity logo but to create a deeper, more emotionally resonant partnership. This idea required a true partnership strategy: integrating the creative, media and two brands into one cohesive campaign. This meant John Lewis could extend their traditional ‘feeling good at Christmas’ campaign into a true ‘doing good at Christmas’ campaign.
In return, Age UK would get the support and validation of one of the UK’s most loved brands, giving the public a new lens to see the importance of the work they do.
The John Lewis Christmas advert would be a catalyst for a wider campaign aimed at directing sentiment and action towards Age UK and ensuring that their message stayed centre stage. The second advert was designed to get people aware of and talking about the issue.
Making it happen
To ensure anticipation of the first ad, Manning Gottlieb created unbranded “#OnTheMoon” social accounts delivering a 10” teaser which started trending on Twitter before launch and trended no. 1 on Twitter, globally, only 40 minutes after launch. A joint-PR effort promoted the partnership, raising awareness of loneliness. The second ad was launched online across social and video channels to coincide with the second burst of activity.
In the week leading up to Christmas, the Age UK spot was broadcasted on TV, culminating in the marquee spot in the finale of Downton Abbey on ITV – the most-watched programme on Christmas Day. An impactful out-of-home campaign highlighted the scale of the issue and how people could help. Last but not least, John Lewis promoted the partnership across their social channels and in-store – every store ran a comprehensive fund-raising programme and Man On The Moon merchandise was sold with all profits going to Age UK.
- The campaign delivered a huge 38m online views for both ads, with the main ad topping the Google chart for most viewed ad on YouTube UK of 2015. This equates to over 835k hours of brand engagement!
- Manning Gottlieb helped drive 688k shares and 1,400 press articles, the most ever for a John Lewis campaign.
- People started to engage with Age UK too. On launch day, they received a donation every minute. They received an overwhelming 15,000 volunteer phone calls, 6x the number they get in a whole year.
- The impact has been so great that the UK Prime Minister’s office at Downing Street called to congratulate Age UK on the campaign and hosted a tea party for older people at Number 10!
- Finally, the campaign delivered £951m in sales, a 7% YoY increase, helping John Lewis have their biggest ever Christmas.