Nostalgia Marketing & What We Can Learn From John Lewis Ads

You’ve most likely seen an inflow of seasonal tv promoting campaigns by retail manufacturers within the build-up to Christmas. These spots have a tendency to draw widespread media protection and acclaim upon their launch.

Simply take a look at division retailer model John Lewis & Companions, which launched their first Christmas advert again in 2007.

Their nostalgic adverts have turn into one thing of an annual custom within the U.Ok., and one of many alerts that the countdown to Christmas has begun.

In 2011, John Lewis uploaded their Christmas advert to YouTube for the primary time. Since then, the British division retailer chain and its London-based company, Adam & Eve/DDB, have adopted swimsuit each yr.

And judging by the standard of adverts different manufacturers within the U.Ok. have been releasing this previous decade, they might have realized some essential classes from these John Lewis spots.

On this column, we’ll check out how these manufacturers are successfully harnessing the facility of nostalgia advertising and what you may study from them to make it part of your individual advertising technique.



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What Is Nostalgia Marketing?

Nostalgia advertising is the technique of evoking a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the previous, to be able to construct manufacturers for the longer term.

It’s the tactic of associating your organization with a interval or place that triggers blissful private associations in your ideally suited buyer, for the aim of promoting items and merchandise within the current.

Why Nostalgia Marketing Works So Effectively

Nostalgia advertising sometimes works properly as a result of the psychological response triggered by watching a deeply nostalgic video tends to be intense, since it’s influenced by the viewer’s personal constructive feelings and recollections.


Nostalgic content material additionally makes promoting campaigns seem extra down-to-earth and genuine to the viewers.

Nevertheless, John Lewis could (or could not) not have realized what works (and what doesn’t). As the information under from Tubular Labs reveals, the John Lewis Christmas adverts uploaded to YouTube acquired extra views and engagements a number of years in the past than they’ve obtained extra lately.


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And that was a difficult pattern even earlier than the pandemic turned final Christmas right into a season that almost all excessive avenue retailers would relatively neglect!

Title of videoViewsEngagementsJohn Lewis Christmas Advert 2011 – The Lengthy Wait8.3M43KJohn Lewis Christmas Advert 2012 – The Journey7.0M35KJohn Lewis Christmas Advert 2013 – The Bear & The Hare17.7M124KJohn Lewis Christmas Advert 2014 – #MontyThePenguin27.8M130KJohn Lewis Christmas Advert 2015 – #ManOnTheMoon30.4M163KJohn Lewis Christmas Advert 2016 – #BusterTheBoxer28.3M123KJohn Lewis Christmas Advert 2017 – #MozTheMonster10.6M77KJohn Lewis & Companions Christmas Advert 2018 – #EltonJohnLewis14.7M142KChristmas 2019 Advert | John Lewis & Companions and Waitrose & Partners11.1M99KChristmas 2020 Advert | Give A Little Love | Waitrose & John Lewis4.7M34K


Google Developments Information For The Christmas Advert This 12 months

You need to use Google Developments to study some shocking classes about curiosity within the Christmas advert.

For starters, net search curiosity within the U.Ok. for the search time period “Christmas advert” peaked again in November 2016 and is prone to be simply 38% of that stage this yr.


Screenshot from Google Developments, December 2021

And should you slender the timeframe on Google Developments to simply the final 30 days, you may scroll down and see that the highest associated queries for the search time period embody:

  • John Lewis Christmas advert (100).
  • Aldi Christmas advert (42).
  • M&S Christmas advert (20).

Now, let’s pause for a second and replicate on this astounding listing of queries.

Individuals on the opposite facet of the pond are so excited about seeing a model’s Christmas advert that they really seek for it – typically prematurely, and oftentimes after they’ve heard about it from their pals, household, and colleagues.

Which Christmas Ads Harness Nostalgia Marketing Successfully In 2021?

Let’s look at a few of these Christmas adverts to find out if any of them successfully harness nostalgia advertising in 2021.

John Lewis Advert’s Content material Doesn’t Dwell Up To Viewers’ Excessive Expectations

We’ll begin with “Sudden Visitor | John Lewis & Companions | Christmas Advert 2021”.

The outline of this YouTube video asks, “What occurs when an surprising visitor lands in your forest? You present them how Christmas is completed, after all!”


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John Lewis has created a ton of associated content material. Perhaps they’ve been studying some essential classes through the years.

For instance, there’s an prolonged model of “Unexpected Guest”.

And there’s a related page on their web site that gives the backstory of the “Sudden Visitor.”

There’s additionally a behind-the-scenes article and video on the making of “Sudden Visitor”.

And, it looks as if John Lewis has realized a lesson about merchandising. Why? As a result of the model’s web site consists of content material concerning the particular Christmas jumper, custom-made with a star and twinkly lights, that Nathan provides Skye.

Plus, John Lewis is donating 10% of the gross sales from their Christmas advert jumper to assist households in want.

There’s additionally content material about adorning the tree – with hyperlinks to “Store within the Gemstone Forrest” and “Store all Christmas decorations.” There’s extra content material about setting the desk, too, with hyperlinks to “Store the advert desk look” and “Store all Christmas tableware.”

There’s even a brand new interactive sport, “Sudden Visitor: The Expertise”, which My John Lewis members get unique entry to play.


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So, every little thing is queued as much as “market items and merchandise within the current” – so long as the video’s content material associates John Lewis “with a interval or place with blissful private associations.”

How did the model do?

Effectively, based on information from Tubular Labs, “Sudden Visitor” acquired 2.5 million views and 17,500 engagements in its first 30 days.

That’s a worse begin than any of the model’s different Christmas adverts from the earlier decade. Now, possibly it is a reflection of a dramatic shift within the temper of households and customers within the U.Ok.

Or, possibly nostalgia advertising doesn’t work in addition to it as soon as did in Pricey Previous Blighty.

If you happen to learn a few of the 1,200+ feedback on “Sudden Visitor,” it’s a must to surprise if John Lewis has misplaced its contact for evoking a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the previous:

  • Nature bunny mentioned, “Ah… there’s nothing extra festive than a crash-landed UFO within the native woods.”
  • Wayne Prezzler mentioned, “Let’s be sincere. John Lewis won’t ever ever beat the lad ready to provide presents relatively than receiving them. It captured an essence misplaced and that Christmas is extra concerning the giving of presents than receiving. I consider it was their first and it was positively their greatest advert.”
  • Ethan Clarke mentioned, “The 2012 snowman advert continues to be one of the best for me.”
  • Sturdy Espresso mentioned, “Monty the Penguin nonetheless makes me sob like an fool. Love the track alternative on this although!”
  • Edward Osmond mentioned, “Nothing will ever beat the rabbit and the bear.”


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John Lewis replied to this final remark. Somebody representing the model mentioned, “These two actually pulled on the center strings! However glad you want Nathan and Skye’s story too.”

Key Insights:

  • It seems that nostalgia advertising nonetheless works. Tying your organization to a interval or place with blissful private associations to market items and merchandise doesn’t work in case your video’s content material fails to set off that deeply nostalgic psychological response, although.
  • Plan supplemental content material to get extra mileage out of your video adverts and allow the expertise to go on.

Now, let’s consider this yr’s Christmas adverts from another manufacturers.

Aldi Video Advert Combines Humor With Deeper Emotional Sentiment

In line with Kantar’s newest analysis utilizing facial coding to find out the facility of the advert to impress an emotional response, the simplest of the 24 festive adverts examined this yr was “Aldi Christmas Launch Advert 2021.”

It’s value noting that the model of this TV advert that was uploaded to YouTube acquired 2.9 million views and seven,400 engagements.

That includes Kevin the Carrot for the sixth yr in a row, this yr’s Christmas advert has been Aldi’s most profitable to this point.


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In truth, it scored within the high 6% of all U.Ok. adverts by way of being each “distinctive” and “pleasing,” and was additionally the marketing campaign that sparked essentially the most dialog.

The outline of Aldi’s Christmas advert asks, “Will Ebanana Scrooge uncover his Christmas spirit?”

Um, who’s Ebanana Scrooge? The model uploaded a teaser for this yr’s Christmas advert to offer the backstory for this new character.

In line with Kantar, Aldi targeted on conventional Christmas themes equivalent to kindness and togetherness.

Information from their analysis discovered that 35% of individuals really feel this Christmas is extra essential than final yr, with a specific emphasis on family and friends, and fewer deal with extravagant spending.

Lynne Deason, head of artistic excellence at Kantar, mentioned,

“Aldi’s new tackle a Christmas basic is a superb instance of how a model can convey critical messages about objective and social influence whereas nonetheless being nice enjoyable.

Aldi makes use of humor successfully, one thing particularly essential in a yr once we all want an additional chortle, but it surely additionally has a deeper sentiment.

The intelligent inclusion of ‘Marcus Radishford’ highlights a worthy trigger – the marketing campaign to offer meals to these in want – with out coming throughout as too somber to viewers.

And by borrowing from one of the crucial well-known and liked Christmas tales of all time, it units out an advanced narrative with out ever being complicated.”


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Key Insights:

  • Essentially the most profitable Christmas adverts in 2021 captured a constructive temper whereas making it extremely related to their manufacturers and merchandise.
  • People who struggled to get resonance have been those with unhappy or advanced storylines, the place the supposed blissful ending doesn’t stand out or the viewers is left feeling confused.

Marks & Spencer Makes use of Character & Storyline To Elicit Emotion

One other standout marketing campaign this yr was “Percy Pig involves life for the primary time EVER! | 2021 Christmas Advert | M&S FOOD.”

As well as, Percy Pig alongside along with his fairy pal uncover the scrumptious delights of the Marks & Spencer festive Foodhall, from triple chocolate panettone to Assortment smoked salmon. This video has 1.8 million views and seven,200 engagements.

Very like Aldi, Marks & Spencer relied on the assistance of “recognizable” characters, a tactic that proved efficient in linking messages and storylines with model names.


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On this case, Marks & Spencer leaned on its well-loved and extremely recognizable Percy Pig voiced by English actor Tom Holland, and the “fairy that fell off the highest of the Christmas tree” voiced by British actress Daybreak French.

Key Insights:

  • In line with Kantar, the characters created a better emotional response amongst audiences than earlier years’ adverts from the model, contributing to its elevated effectiveness.
  • Familiarity – in characters, voiceovers, and different storyline components – helps nostalgia advertising.

Coca-Cola Has Model Loyalty & Connection On Its Aspect

I requested Deason, “Which model was the simplest at harnessing the facility of nostalgia this yr?”

She mentioned, “Coca-Cola’s advert is by far essentially the most nostalgic Christmas advert, attaining iconic standing within the minds of many.”

The model of this TV advert that was uploaded to YouTube, “Coca-Cola Christmas Business 2021”, is unlisted, which explains why it solely acquired 2,573 views and 22 engagements.

She added, “Coke’s festive truck sings out Christmas to most viewers, however additionally it is intrinsically related to the Coca-Cola model.  It’s within the high 2% of all adverts within the UK by way of model connection, so the success of the festive marketing campaign will translate to long-term model loyalty.”


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Sainsbury’s Advert Helps Armed Forces And Their Households

If they need some inspiration, then I might encourage them to get their search engine optimisation, content material advertising, social media, and paid search groups collectively and watch “1914 | Sainsbury’s Advert | Christmas 2014”.

Made in partnership with The Royal British Legion, the advert was impressed by actual occasions from greater than 100 years in the past. It commemorates the extraordinary occasions of Christmas Day, 1914, when the weapons fell silent and two armies met in no man’s land, sharing presents – and even taking part in soccer collectively.

The chocolate bar featured within the advert was on sale in 2014 at Sainsbury’s. All income (50p per bar) went to The Royal British Legion and benefited Nice Britain’s armed forces and their households, previous and current.

Closing Ideas

I requested Deason through electronic mail, “What occurred to John Lewis this yr? Why didn’t an ‘Sudden Visitor’ named Skye do higher than Kevin the Carrot?”


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She mentioned, “It’s nice to see John Lewis again this yr with an advert that individuals have actually loved. Though not fairly as emotionally evocative as a few of its earlier hits, it nonetheless lands within the high 16% of all UK adverts and was the second most loved Christmas marketing campaign of 2021.

“Music continues to be a key driver of emotional engagement for John Lewis, its monitor was the second most loved this yr. The advert is distinctive (high 16%) and is among the high ones which individuals would share with others,” Deason added.

Whereas the position of the John Lewis model is weaker than in earlier years, she mentioned, it at all times advantages from the anticipation and dialog across the advert every Christmas. The absence of an apparent must-have mascot may also influence its means to drive visitors to the model.

This might clarify why it might not seize potential customers in the best way it has earlier than. Even so, Deason identified, it’s nonetheless maintaining viewers entertained, because it has achieved constantly over the previous decade.


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“John Lewis Christmas Advert 2015 – #ManOnTheMoon” is the YouTube video created by a model within the UK with Christmas within the title with the second most engagements of all time. It has 30.4 million views and 163,000 engagements.

This video has 23.2 million views and 230,000 engagements. That demonstrates the potential energy of nostalgia advertising in the course of the Christmas season.

Sadly, it’s now not accessible.

In truth, not one of the John Lewis Christmas adverts listed within the chart initially of this column can be found, regardless that they’d have all ranked within the high 20 movies created by a model within the U.Ok. with Christmas within the title with essentially the most engagements all time.

That’s an incredible pity.

Why? There are three key causes.

First, when folks proceed to look at previous Christmas adverts that evoke a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the previous that may proceed to construct manufacturers for the longer term.

Second, social media and paid search groups can add as much as 5 playing cards to every previous Christmas advert to make them extra interactive. These playing cards allow you to hyperlink to your latest Christmas advert in your viewers to work together with.


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If you happen to’re within the YouTube Accomplice Program, you may add a card that lets you hyperlink to your exterior web site to share the newest merchandising alternatives along with your viewers.

And third, John Lewis ought to overview their previous Christmas adverts to find how the feelings elicited by video content material is said to engagement. As Winston Churchill mentioned in a 1948 speech to the Home of Commons, “Those that fail to study from historical past are condemned to repeat it.

Extra Assets:

Featured picture: BrAt82


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