Since 2009, British department store John Lewis has gone from strength to strength, with a series of award-winning advertising campaigns built upon deep human truths. This is the story of the Christmas 2014 campaign, “Monty the Penguin”, their most effective and profitable to date.
This is the heart-tugging story of a boy and his toy penguin, Monty. Seen through the eyes of the child, the penguin comes to life. And while the boy and his friend have fun together, Monty still dreams of another penguin to love. So that’s what the boy gives him for Christmas: a lady penguin called Mabel.
Through clever use of media and technology, we turned this simple but emotive story into the most immersive and integrated retail campaign of ever.
We started with a teaser campaign, using a combination of TV and digital outdoor. At the same time, key opinion-formers received mysterious penguins by post, to fuel speculation.
Then we launched Monty online, with the world’s first scratch-off digital ad, a partnership with Google. Within an hour, we were trending globally on Twitter, even though this was a UK-only campaign.
Next, we used TV to get mass exposure. In all, the ad got nearly 400 million views on and offline.
We got huge amounts of free exposure too. The campaign was mentioned over 11,000 times in the press and on radio and TV. The song from the ad was bought, downloaded and listened to millions of times. And a host of parodies appeared online and in the media, some of them getting more attention than our rivals “official” ads!
So we “won” Christmas 2014: ours was the most watched, loved and talked about ad of the season.
But this was more than just advertising. Monty and Mabel’s love story continued online, giving us another 137 million impressions through social media alone. And Monty fans could immerse themselves in the story through books, apps and merchandise. And partnerships with Microsoft and Google allowed us to take immersion to a new level in-store.
As a result, John Lewis became the most talked about retailer in Britain, and the public’s fondness for the brand increased even further.
Store traffic increased, both on- and off-line, and we got more customers, spending more. Sales and market share increased to record levels, with the store taking £175m in a single week for the first time in its 150 year history. Econometrics showed that advertising was the single biggest factor driving this growth, accounting for nearly 25% of all sales.
In all, the 2014 Christmas campaign generated £132m worth of extra sales and £33m of extra profit, with a payback ROI of nearly 8 to 1, this was one of the highest profit ROIs in the history of Creative Effectiveness awards.