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The Bear and The Hare: John Lewis’ holiday campaign done right

Every year, UK retailer John Lewis launches a holiday campaign that tends to melt the hardest of hearts. This year, they did not disappoint. In true John Lewis style, they launched The Bear and The Hare, carrying the message: “Give someone a Christmas they’ll never forget”.

At the campaign’s core is their television spot: a beautifully hand-drawn partial stop-motion animation about two dear friends, the bear and the hare. It’s simple, captivating, and moving. (I’ll let you watch it to see for yourself.)

The TV spot is fantastic on its own and is only strengthened by the layer upon layer of digital and offline extensions John Lewis has wrapped around it: each encouraging further exploration, engagement, and reminders of their lovely tale. And with reminders of their tale are also reminders of John Lewis as a retailer for families out shopping. (I have to confess, I wish there were one in Canada.)

As a story, The Bear and The Hare is very accessible to families and children and lends itself exceptionally well to family oriented extensions like:

  • the personalized online Christmas card maker engine, downloadable interactive eBook for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices,
  • Bear’s caves, available in 11 of John Lewis stores that are rich with photo opps,
  • the Bear and the Hare window displays,
  • and of course, the Bear and Hare soft toys.

For older fans, there are also:

  • Bear and Hare Twitter accounts that fans can follow,
  • behind the scenes video feature that shows how the animation was created,
  • a special cover recording of Keane’s song sung by Lilly Allen available on iTunes,
  • and finally, a YouTube contest searching for the next voice of John Lewis’ next television spot.

So all in all, a wonderful campaign that is beautifully planned, branded, and executed. And if you’re a marketer, it’s a great example of marketing done right based on:

  1. Relevance. As most companies, John Lewis knew exactly who their key target audiences are, and designed their campaign with that audience in mind perfectly. If I were to wager a guess, I’d suppose they were targeting moms around 25-35 with young children, and a secondary audience of young adults and professionals around 17-28 that they’re trying to start building relationships with. When you go back over the channels and ways John Lewis brings their campaign to life, they’re doing it in exactly the right way for the people they want to reach and shop at their stores.
  2. Emotive connection. The deeper your emotional connection with something, the more likely you are to invest in it. John Lewis is tapping into a deep emotional place with their Bear and Hare campaign. Friendship. Distance. The first holiday experience… through a child’s eyes… It’s magic.
  3. Integration! While it’s not always easy, a campaign should be cohesive, united, singular in its purpose in driving home a message across all its media channels. It needs to be integrated and leverage each channel for what it’s good at doing and bring value to the customer. And that’s what John Lewis is doing with their in-store bear caves and eBooks. They’re maintaining their store as a household name that lives and breathes as an add-on in their customers’ lives. They’re not forcing their way in. Rather, they’ve made it easy for their customers to bring them in.
  4. Appropriate use of social and digital channels. As a more focused point from the previous point, “social media” is on the lips and minds of everyone lately – with “lately” being a number of years now. And while it’s enticing to be relevant to the industry and go social, sometimes its easy to fall into a trap of doing digital and social media for the sake of being up to date. It’s where a lot of our customers are! However, something to consider is that if it’s not adding value to your customers, it’s actually not relevant and really shouldn’t be done. It will likely not work. On the flip side, if it does add value, then by all means. Digital and social media can be powerful tools. John Lewis is using digital and social in a way that best leverages what these channels are good at: frequent connection, accessibility, and distribution. To further that point, the bear and hare Twitter aliases each already have well over 7K followers and it hasn’t even been 2 weeks yet. I bet if we had the luxury of looking at their site traffic and shopping – we’d see an even bigger, very healthy spike – or at least we’d hope so.

So, if you haven’t had a chance yet, watch the video. Make a Christmas card. Maybe even enter the “Somewhere Only We Know” vocal contest. You never know, you may feel be the next voice of John Lewis in their Christmas advert… or maybe you’ll just feel your heart tugging you towards their store.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lovely video. Don’t want to spoil it, of course, but the end really brought a smile to my face.

    November 22, 2013
    • I’m glad you liked it! I thought it was really heartwarming and a fantastic campaign. Very smart.
      I made a Christmas card after. 🙂

      November 22, 2013

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