Too much of a good thing

There are so many things that I could be writing about the 2011 John Lewis Christmas ad right now. I could talk about how everyone’s been all a-Twitter about it. I could tell you about how everyone at Ipsos ASI has been arguing about whether it’s a tear jerker or a thriller. How we’ve passed around versions of it to make your head (or your chair) spin. How, despite all this debate or perhaps because of it, it has been chosen as the ‘Ad of the Week’ by our team. I could reference the ‘what’s in the box’ debate.

But instead, I am going to talk about how tired I am of seeing it. Because, yeah, I’ve seen it. Oh boy, have I seen it.

And when I first saw it, I liked it. Yeah, the boy is a little creepy if viewed in a certain light, but aren’t all little boys? He’s really rather sweet. And, after all, the joys of Christmas (in November) and the joy of giving (which is my favourite part of the season) always make me feel warm and fuzzy.

Then, I had the misfortune of being laid low by the flu. This means I found myself on my sofa, under the duvet this weekend, watching Heineken Cup rugby for the entire weekend. Over the course of two afternoons, I saw the John Lewis ad at least twice an hour, often more. At one point, I saw it twice in the same ad break. Who knew John Lewis was so popular among this crowd? I saw it until it got to the point that I hid under the duvet whenever I heard the music.

Surely not the reaction the brand is hoping for?

Now, don’t get me wrong: I like John Lewis. Their advertising, the brand, the experience of shopping there. It’s a brand for which I feel a great deal of warmth. But I must admit, its charm palls now. And, apart from the two Christmas purchases I made in September in a fit of madness, I’ve not even started to think about buying gifts yet this year, let alone where I’m going to buy them.

Great advertising is a combination of strong creative and potent media delivery. Unfortunately, in this case, the media delivery’s potency ranks somewhere alongside the cheap cologne of a 17-year old boy: asphyxiating. And that’s not helped by the buzz the ad has generated too – it’s impossible to escape.

So, if I had to make a recommendation to John Lewis about the ad, what would I say? Cool it for a bit. Take a break for a week or two before making a repeat appearance. Let the buzz keep buzzing and then remind everyone. When it’s December and people have started their shopping.

As someone else, who clearly was watching the same thing I was on Sunday, tweeted:

Toby Flood (@tobyflood)
20/11/2011 18:46
Great John lewis Christmas advert, anyone seen it?I have 3 times in 40 mins it’s November the 20th for gods sake!!! Bah humbug #xmasdecember

Tara Beard-Knowland is a Research Director at Ipsos ASI

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