There is a debate going on just now about the John Lewis TV commercial, what’s interesting is that it seems to be hated by middle aged men who work in advertising; and loved by everyone else. As the commercial is pretty much aimed at everyone else that’s a good thing for John Lewis. However the hubris I’ve read on various forums about this commercial really surprises me. I mean it is very well made, it’s a reasonably original commercial for a high street retailer, in fact you could even describe it as daring what with not one price tag shown. Add in its length, which during these straightened times takes a bit of bottle and you have to wonder why so many in our industry don’t like it. And here’s the rub; are they right? The damning answer of course is no, they aren’t. Everyone I’ve spoken too who could be reliably described as ‘target audience’ loves the commercial, it is memorable, its music is very catchy and it has managed to create a level of discussion about a TV commercial rarely managed by retailers.
But it shouldn’t surprise me that some of people you expect to get something don’t. By far the most conservative, risk adverse audience I come across in this industry is a focus group. As a body they always go with the safe option, the one that’s a bit familiar, never the option everyone at the agency prefers. The focus group must have loved the John Lewis ad, and they were right too as the general public do as well. No wonder so many in advertising don’t like it, we can’t have the commercially illiterate general public knowing more about these things than we do, can we now.