Emotional Branding: A John Lewis Case Study

When it comes to utilising the viral nature of the web to capture the collective hearts of a nation and breath new life into an old brand in the process, very few companies have been as successful over the last few years as John Lewis. The launch of their Christmas ad campaigns are widely anticipated and commented upon each year and immediately spread like wildfire on social channels.

By far my favourite talk at last month’s Dubai Lynx Festival was the case study from the head of the creative team behind the account, James Murphy, the founder of London agency adam&eve DDB, who have dragged the brand kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century since winning the account in 2009.

John Lewis as a brand traditionally didn’t really believe in the concept of marketing and even saw it as somewhat “beneath them” according to Murphy. And while the company had almost 150 years of history behind it at the time, and was extremely trusted by their customers, this didn’t necessarily inspire affection. Murphy describes the brand personality as that of the ‘mother of the bride’. Not exactly cutting edge.

The result of the collaboration was a total revamp of what the brand stood for, with a huge focus on using emotion to instil a sense of connection with the company and tap into the theme of ‘thoughtful giving’ at Christmas. And while most people think of the hugely successful Christmas video spots, the campaigns themselves go a lot deeper, encapsulating a truly multi-channel approach both offline and online (go to 16:30 for an idea of the scope of the 2014 Christmas campaign). The latest results estimate a £5 profit for every £1 spent on marketing which is a pretty staggering success whatever way you look at it.

If you are in any way interested in the power of emotional branding, the below video is 29 minutes well spent.

Note: the videos of these talks are kept behind an attendee login so can’t be embedded. The below image is a link to the direct video source.

john lewis