John Lewis 2014 1

Love or loathe it, that time of year is upon us again. Apple Weather increasingly threatens cloud with a scattering of frostbite towards the afternoon, and inboxes ping with the daily flux of year-end invitations, “Dear <<firstname>>”.  The rebels among us might already be quietly snaffling spiced mince pies.

Yesterday, retail giant John Lewis revealed yet another suitably visceral Christmas TVC. The reception at Rule 5 HQ was decidedly mixed — there were goosebumps sure, some coincidentally watering eyes and what one staffer is calling a penguin-induced nostalgia for all things merry and bright.

It’s widely accepted that the official festive season begins each year when John Lewis deems it so, such is our national affinity with the brand’s hallmark adverts. Some maintain this right belongs to Coca-Cola, the sugar king’s ‘Holidays are coming’ commercial topping Metro’s list of things that put us firmly in the Christmas spirit.

Whichever school of thought you subscribe to, it’s clear the keen effect brand messages have on us during these sentimental months. Would John Lewis’ winter wonderland be so beloved were the ad’s £7m price tag proudly attached? That’s a lot of turkey dinners for people in need.

As an agency, we are often charged with delivering a message that must compete for share of voice against a tide of seasonal news, views and other more abstract editorial interests. It is the remit of every PR to discover what is unique about a story, to express this in real terms and make it matter.

We’re entrusted with the heart and soul of each campaign we deliver, and as the silly season arrives ever-earlier, it reminds us that no year will be the same as the last, no message guaranteed to top the news agenda and no matter how heavy the campaign price tag, there is no ready formula for commercial success at Christmas.

Penguins, however, are eternal.

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