John Lewis launches 2023 Christmas activity to drive ‘consideration to conversion’

The high street retailer’s 2023 Christmas campaign is the first created by Saatchi and Saatchi.

John Lewis has launched its Christmas ad for 2023, the first created by Saatchi and Saatchi, which will form part of its effort to maximise sales over the crucial festive season.

The ad airs today (9 November) and features a giant singing venus fly trap in the place of the traditional Christmas tree.

The venus fly trap, named ‘Snapper’, is mistakenly grown instead of a pine tree by a family at Christmas, before being moved outside when it outgrows its pot – and the family’s patience. As the ad progresses, Snapper (voiced by opera singer Andrea Bocelli) is eventually joined outside on Christmas morning by a family that has come to recognise the value of a new element to Christmas.

Brands to spend record £9.5bn on Christmas advertising The allegorical exploration of how Christmas traditions move on is a result of the findings from what it calls the “Festive Traditions Tracker”. The new report reveals “both the eternal and changing ways the nation celebrates at Christmas.”

It is as part of what Rosie Hanley, marketing director at John Lewis and Partners, describes as its “consideration to conversion” mission around its Christmas campaigns. To that end the product hub for products associated with the ad is going live online from the time of the ad’s launch. Additionally, both John Lewis and Waitrose will use their own media to support the others’ campaigns across the Christmas period.

She adds: “What’s actually really pushed us on this year is connecting the consideration through to the conversion. So more than ever, this campaign isn’t just a nice brand asset. Every single product from the marketing, every single product is John Lewis, the fashion is John Lewis.. and then we play that through the lines. You’ll see tomorrow all of that product goes live [on the hub]”

In addition to the main narrative ad Snapper is to appear across a variety of brand-led cut-outs. These highlight the John Lewis festive range of products, from coffee to clothing, which will also be visible in stores. In a tie-up with the creative, consumers will also be able to purchase their own (miniature) versions of the Snapper character, in addition to the pyjamas worn by the family in the ad.

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The campaign comes at a crucial time for John Lewis and all retailers. Sales dipped 2% to £2.1bn in the 26 weeks to 29 July as cautious customers held back on buying more expensive items.

In addition to the hero ad, the campaign is extending into OOH and social. The various executions will also be live from today including a 15ft tall replica of Snapper is to be unveiled on the roof of the brand’s flagship Oxford Street store.

As the campaign progresses John Lewis is also rolling out AR filters across a variety of social channels, in addition to unveiling a partnership with Kew Gardens to feature the character in the park.

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The Christmas campaign is the first developed for John Lewis by its new creative agency Saatchi and Saatchi, which took over from Adam&eveDDB in May. Its chief creative officer Franki Goodwin explains: “[We] built a fully integrated campaign, and worked with the icons that are Megaforce and Bocelli to make a film that retains what is quintessential about a John Lewis Christmas ad, but evolves it into something perhaps a bit unexpected, wilder and funnier.” She describes the Snapper character as being like “a puppy that’s grown up”, an experience which many households can identify with.

Hanley noted that, in line with the core message that Christmas traditions move on, the family depicted in the ad is a single-parent household. She says that John Lewis’ research has found that roughly 50% of households are single-parent, which led to a desire to represent that core part of the Christmas experience for many people in the UK.

The cut-outs and in-store activations are similarly designed to be inclusive and representative of the British public. Goodwin explains that, in addition to celebrating the season, “we need to reflect back the society… we are all in”.