Emotional lessons from John Lewis

Christmas is always a busy time for retailers, but I suspect that this year John Lewis will be rubbing their hands together with glee. Their £7 million Christmas advertising campaign features the story of the impossibly lovable Monty the penguin’s quest for companionship. It’s funny, it’s touching, and it comes with a range of merchandise consumers have gone absolutely crazy for.

Since releasing the Christmas ad, weekly sales have rocketed to more than £100million (a 7.9% increase upon last year) and cuddly toy versions of Monty and Mabel, priced at £95, have sold out across the country and online. People are so desperate to get hold of the toys that they are willing to pay as much as £400 on eBay.

(Interestingly though, a lot of John Lewis’ increased weekly sales has been down to a 179% boost in the number of Smeg cookers being sold. It’s not entirely clear what part of the advert makes people want to buy a new cooker, but it does suggest that perhaps turkeys can have a break this Christmas, and that Monty should be incredibly worried).

So how did John Lewis achieve all this? It’s actually very simple: they made their customers emotional.

Being emotive with your marketing doesn’t mean that you have to make people cry, or fall in love, or shout at the TV. But what you do need to do is understand that we all make purchasing decisions based upon emotion and then validate them with logic. How often do you find yourself justifying your latest purchase to anyone who will listen?

If we buy based upon emotion then emotion should be the primary thing we are trying to stimulate when marketing to people. It doesn’t have to be cute penguins or heart-warming stories from World War I (Sainsbury’s), it just means making people emotionally connect with your marketing. How do you achieve that?

A great example is Weight Watchers’ latest campaigns. Recent Weight Watchers campaigns have been themed around the idea that because of losing weight people are much happier, more confident, and able to live fuller lives. They are using the emotional idea of making a positive change to your life to convey the benefits of losing weight, rather than the features (i.e. you get thinner).

That’s what you have to remember. Emotional advertising is still about selling the features of your product. Give people an emotional reason to connect with what you are saying, and you will foster much more meaningful relationships with potential customers and clients than if you were to simply list the facts.

Christmas advertising from the biggest retailers has become something of an event rather than an annoying thing we have to sit through. It’s hard to imagine anybody getting that excited about a checklist of specifications for the latest laptop, or an in-depth tour of one of John Lewis’ Smeg cookers.

What’s your favourite Christmas advert, and why?


About Rewan the author

Rewan Tremethick is one of our freelance copywriters and a published author. When not writing on topics ranging from marketing to chilli peppers, Rewan is working away on his latest book. He can often be found at local networking events lingering by the buffet table, and can be easily identified by his tight jeans. He runs The Hyperteller, a copywriting business providing powerful text that gets results and wins business.