What Your Business can Learn from the John Lewis Christmas Ad

What Your Business can Learn from the John Lewis Christmas Ad | Kathy Ennis | LittlePiggy

How to Plan a Marketing Campaign like John Lewis (just in time for Christmas!)

So the countdown to Christmas is well under way – there are fewer than 75 sleeps at my latest count – and naturally, social media is buzzing in anticipation of the new John Lewis Christmas TV ad.

(If you haven’t heard the gossip yet, talk is that Lewis Capaldi will be singing the theme).

Traditionally, John Lewis reveal their famous Christmas ad in early November.  But the planning and preparation for that launch begins far, far, far in advance.


Let’s think about the behind-the-scenes work that will go into planning a such a high-profile TV event as the John Lewis Christmas ad. The process would include:

  • Deciding on the theme and story for the ad
  • Selecting the products to promote in the ad
  • Ensuring that the products will be available in store once the ad goes live
  • Enabling the merchandising team to ‘work their magic’ by planning store layouts and window displays
  • Writing a script
  • Creating a story board for the filming
  • Scouting and securing the use of the location for the filming
  • Auditioning and contracting the actors
  • Securing the musical rights to the theme tune and / or securing the singer
  • Shooting the film
  • Editing the film
  • Organising the media preview
  • Planning the TV, radio, print and social media coverage

I have probably left out loads of stages and, in some of the stages I have listed, there will be massive to-do lists and sub-lists… On and on and on!

Why Very Small Businesses Need to Think Like Very Big Businesses when Planning a Marketing Campaign

It’s easy to think that huge, already well-known companies like John Lewis don’t need to plan any marketing activity.  They’ve already got a TV ad that gets everybody talking just before Christmas, so why bother?

But part of the reason why companies like John Lewis have become so huge, and so well-known, is that they plan their marketing with expert precision.  So they won’t wait until the last minute to talk about that famous ad.  Instead, they build anticipation; they whet our appetites, by drip, drip dripping hints and messages way in advance.

(Case in point: that ‘clue’ about Lewis Capaldi singing their Christmas ad theme was actually hinted at back in August!)

The moral of this story is that good marketing campaigns can’t happen without a plan and a buzz.  Luckily, creating a basic event marketing schedule – one you can use again and again – is simple (see the downloadable resource at the bottom of this blog).

And what better time to begin, when we’ve got so many ‘calendar events’ coming up, from Halloween and Black Friday, to Christmas and New Year’s Day?

Marketing is a Science, Not an Art

I’ve lost count of the number of micro business owners who tell me they’re “not creative enough to do marketing.”

But good marketing is all about discipline, routine and consistency, rather than wild creativity.

According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing, marketing is:

The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably

Does that sound like art to you?

Rather than trying to conjure up a host of creative ideas, start simply.  You’ve got an event coming up, and you’d like people to know more about it.

Now it’s time to get planning!

Keep reading and you can get hold of your copy of The Highly Effective Event, Offer & Promotion Planning Timetable

Use an Event Planning Checklist

A checklist not only works as an effective ‘countdown’ to your event, promotion or offer –  but once you’ve created it, you can roll it out time and time again, tweaking it accordingly.

This is a trick used by large companies who, just like John Lewis, run lots of tried-and-tested event campaigns every year.

This is what’s known as the ‘rinse and repeat’ process

Kathy Ennis

Start with a specific goal for your event, offer or promotion, such as the number of sign-ups or ticket sales you’d like to achieve.

Then, think about all the different marketing channels you could use to let people know about your event, and what kind of messaging is the most appropriate for each.  For example, you may need to source different images for social media posts, or record videos.

(Remember that marketing isn’t just about social media – could it will also be effective to create a series of auto-responder emails, write an in-depth blog post about the event’s subject or talk about it at a networking event)

Start with a Whimper; End with a BANG!

How far in advance you decide to promote your event is up to you, but the general rule of thumb is: the earlier, the better.

People will need time to process and internalise the information you are sharing, so that when they finally make the choice to buy, sign up etc. they feel ‘safe’ with their decision..

If it’s an event you are promoting, they will need to make arrangements and clear space in their busy diaries.

There’s another – massive – upside to scheduling lots of time.

You can get all the work you need to do organised, prepared and finished well in advance and organised in bite-sized chunks.  For example, you could source images on one day, write a blog post on another and record a video on the next.

Once you have done that you can plot all your marketing activity into your timeline (check out my freebie downloadable resource below – The Highly Effective Event, Offer and Promotion Planning Timetable)

My advice here is to start with a whimper, and end with a BANG!

So if your event, offer or promotion is happening in six months’ time, start with one post or reminder every couple of weeks, then gather momentum by ramping up the frequency of your communications as the date draws nearer.

Who knows – your offer could end up being as hotly anticipated as that John Lewis Christmas ad!

If you want to chat about anything you’ve read in this blog, just book a call.

You can get your copy of The Highly Effective Event, Offer and Promotion Planning Timetable by filling in the boxes below:


Kathy Ennis

I mentor dynamic, action-taking micro business owners who are not making the profit they deserve or dream of. I help them transform their good ideas into a successful business. I enable them to create simple, sensible, achievable business plans and engagement marketing strategies that turn their passion into profit.

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