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Why Christmas ads like ‘Man on the Moon’ change brands for the better

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Why Christmas ads like ‘Man on the Moon’ change brands for the better

While some have berated the latest John Lewis Christmas ad as another cynical ‘heart strings to purse strings’ ploy, ‘Man on the moon’ is still set to become the most popular store advert of Christmas 2015.

Already mentioned more than 42k times on social media, the advert tells the story of a little girl and her determination to send a present to a lonely old man on the moon she spots through her telescope, reminding us to show someone they’re loved this Christmas.

While John Lewis is undeniably a retailer intent on selling, if it’s sole aim was to plug goods in the run up to Christmas, it hasn’t done a very good job of it. Largely because there’s not much featured in the ad that you can actually buy. And we’re sure this glaring fact wouldn’t have slipped past the strategic brains who signed off the £7m spend. Furthermore, the ad’s sentiments echo those of Age Uk’s campaign: “No one should have no one at Christmas”, with some of the profits from two products – a mug and Christmas card – going directly to the charity.

Described by some as unconventional, this strategy of not actually trying to sell goods is anything but. Rather, it’s part of a comprehensive shift over recent years away from the ‘sell, sell, sell’ (whoever shouts the loudest) mentality brands embraced in the past, to more genuine and benevolent forms of brand engagement.

Customers are no longer up for being worn down through the hard sell. We’re not so willing to play victim to ads feigning festive frivolity to jolly us into spending for spending’s sake. Today’s consumers are sharper, more morally attuned and they’re in the driving seat, with more retailers to choose from than ever.

But one thing hasn’t changed. We’re still very definitely looking for opportunities to kill two (or even three) birds with one stone…The option to buy my Christmas gifts online? Great. The ability to do so while simultaneously giving to charity? Even better. The chance to do all the aforementioned, while supporting a return to traditional Christmas values? Definitely.

So where does that leave us; cynics or devotees?

Devotees…every time. Because although it’s clear that a clever long term brand strategy lies at the heart of this campaign, ads like ‘Man on the Moon’ help us collectively aspire to make the world a kinder place – as well as rewarding the retailers who use their wealth to create good. Perhaps we’ve fallen for it hook, line and sinker – but it can’t be a bad thing, can it?

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