It’s fair to say that advertising did not come naturally to John Lewis.
A modest and reserved organisation, they only appointed their first ad agency in 1996, a mere 132 years after the company was founded.
In fact, it took until 2003 for them to make their first TV ad.
Slow starters they may have been, but as tonight’s ‘Advertiser of Excellence’ Award proves, they have made up for lost time.
So how did they get here?
In 2009, John Lewis put their account up for pitch and took the brave, (some would say suicidal), decision to appoint adam&eveDDB, a little known agency of 18 people, in a ramshackle office in Covent Garden.
Marketing Director, Craig Inglis, was the driving force behind the move. It was not for the faint-hearted but, true to form, Craig went with his gut.
Client and agency immediately set about developing a relationship that was, from day one, witheringly honest and direct in both directions. The work that emerges may look effortless and refined but it’s delivered through blood, sweat and the occasional tear.
In the 6 years that have followed, the John Lewis campaigns have become the most eagerly awaited in the country. The Christmas ad is now a part of our national holiday.
Awards have flowed from all directions. At the British Arrows alone, John Lewis have taken home Gold for 6 consecutive years since 2009, including Commercial of the Year in 2011 for ‘The Long Wait’.
It’s great work but more importantly, it really works. Craig and his team have delivered the 3 biggest Christmases in the company’s 150-year history and proved to the partners that every £1 they spend on marketing delivers over £5 of pure profit.
In all that time, John Lewis have never researched a single word of the work we’ve written for them. Craig’s point of view is a simple one – if we don’t know our brand, our customers and our own minds, then what on earth are we being paid for?
For once, I’m not going to argue with him.
Many, many congratulations, John Lewis.