If digital is the new advertising, why are we all talking about the John Lewis TV ad?

Probably because it’s powerfully emotive and has an amazing song, which leaves us all with a positive emotional experience. Fact is, Big Media (TV, outdoors) still makes a bigger impact because it has the power to engage millions.

I was speaking at  a digital conference this week, The Bigger Bang, where one person told me that “TV was a dead medium”. Umm, seems not, in fact this week ITV announced its profits were up.

Much has been written about ‘The Journey’ (well done to JL’s PR agency) and it’s generate a lot of word of mouth. Not being a great lover of romantic ads, for me the real genius is the song, the Power of Love sung by upper coming 20 year old singer Gabrielle Aplin.

(The song was originally sung by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, written by Gill, O’Toole & Johnson, produced by Trevor Horn.)

Alpin originally started to make a name for herself on Myspace about 4 years ago and then on YouTube when she gained greater recognition with a cover of My Heart by the American rock band Paramore. She got a further boost through the BBC. Since then she has gained a big cult following, reaching No 25 in the iTunes chart two years ago.

After watching the X factor parade one talentless person after another, it gives you hope that there really is talent still out there.

Her haunting voice and simple ballads seem an antidote to the fast, crash, bang trash you get on Radio One these days and like other acclaimed female artists, like Agnes Obel (check out Down by The Riverside), appeals to the traditional values based 45 year old plus middle class JL shopper.

The lyrics are sweet and romantic, though if the ad had gone on another 30 seconds she would have sung:

I’ll protect you from the hooded claw
Keep the vampires from your door
When the chips are down I’ll be around

Wonder how they’d have visualised that?

Looking at YouTube, it’s had over 1,288,508 views (compared to an estimated 20m on TV), not bad but still a long way to go to catch up with the 2011 Christmas ad which got 4,455,600 views.

The metrics are predictable by age but surprising by sex, top viewers being Male, 45-54 years, Female, 45-54 years and Male, 35-44 years, so obviously the ad appeals more to men than women. Maybe proving men are still romantic kids at heart.

It’s had over 7,880 likes, 240 dislikes and over 1200 comments. The overall feeling is that this ad touches the emotions of its audience, many claiming the ad makes them smile, others that it made them cry. Proving that great TV ads still work better than any other medium when they are done well and when the messaging is emotionally pitched not rationally pitched.

However, once you get past the ‘gushers’ (a term for those that are over emotive on YouTube), not all comments are good though. Not that this is unexpected, YouTube does allow morons to have a voice, proving that stupidity is hard to hide.

What the fxxx was that sxxx. I’m gonna go pxxx on a snowman outside John Lewis. (biglilnicky)

if Jimmy Saville fxxxxx a snow cloud this is what you get an angry pxxxx snowman. (ItsMaffiii)

Christmas is a money making scheme. I feel sorry for the braunwashed kids (XtLzZ)

This advert is so fxxxx depressing… The only way it could be more depressing is if she took the scarf at the end and hung herself!!! Merry Christmas…. (HaikuMaster)

Why do people write stuff like this? Probably because they can without responsibility. The web is great therapy for letting it out.

True to form, the spoofs have already started to appear – watch the horror version at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_Rm9CAcfVM. Or check out Jimmy0010’s humorous (Eddie Izzard style) view that the Snowman is actually trying to kill his Snow girlfriend by warming her up with a hat, scarf and gloves.

But on a positive note, The CuriousMissM sums up what most people feel: “When I watch this advert, I get a weird sensation of melancholy and utter happiness- it brightens up my day and I suddenly love life and those weird little creatures that cause that feeling!”

This ad wins the masses over and proves that great TV ads still deliver a bigger bang for you buck because they have the power to be loved.

Of course the irony is (pointed out by aaronunsigned), having spent a fortune on this ad (it was shot in New Zealand), their sister company Waitrose is claiming it isn’t wasting money on expensive ads this Christmas and giving it to good causes instead.

Watch the John Lewis ad at:


Agnes Obel, Down by the Riverside: