John Lewis: Harnessing the selling power of emotion

adam&eveDDB London

Advertiser: John Lewis
Brand: John Lewis
Country: United Kingdom



We British are not known for our emotions. But this is the story of how throughout a recession, a renowned but previously rather reserved British retailer discovered the power of tapping into its customers' emotions. This delivered the most stand out creative campaign of the past 5 years iand the most commercially effective of any retailer.

Introducing John Lewis

Founded in 1864, John Lewis is a chain of UK department stores. Unusually, every permanent employee is a "Partner" and shares in the profits. With 81,000 employees, John Lewis is Britain's largest employee co-operative.

The idea of a mutually owned company is radical, but in other respects John Lewis has been very conservative. It is quite small, with only 36 stores, compared with almost 350 for its leading competitor, Marks & Spencer. In line with this, advertising spend at John Lewis has traditionally been low compared to its competitors. What's more, John Lewis has a limited marketing history. Pre–2009 it had not used advertising greatly beyond launching new stores and had no Board Marketing Director, making the success of its first real marketing push all the more significant.