What the John Lewis Christmas ad 2020 will be, according to experts

Christmas is just 100 days away and people are already starting to do their shopping and – in some cases – put up their decorations.

But for many Christmas doesn’t really start until John Lewis unveils its advert for the festive season.

The much-awaited ad – which last year featured a dragon and a soundtrack by Bastille – has become a staple of the Christmas calendar.

And while it may still be at least six weeks away from hitting our screens – experts have revealed what they think this year’s ad will include.

Marketing experts Bronco have examined the past trends, and this year’s events, to predict what the theme will be, what the music will be and even what characters were are likely to see.

Bronco’s Sian Thomas said: “The John Lewis Christmas campaign as we know and love it, an emotional narrative combined with an acoustic remake of a classic track with a soft voiced singer – guaranteed to make even the biggest Grinches well up – first launched just over a decade ago.

“In 2009, creative agency, adam&eveDBB, completely shook the Christmas market with their first Christmas campaign for John Lewis by making it different : rather than focusing on a product, they told a story.

“Ever since, the launch of the John Lewis ad each festive season has become synonymous with the start of Christmas.”

According to Bronco, the formula for past years has included

  • 3 B-side records : 3 out of the 10 songs used in John Lewis Christmas ads were from B-sides.
  • 1969: The year the oldest song used in a John Lewis Christmas ad was originally released (Golden Slumbers by The Beatles).
  • 34 years: the average age of a song when it’s used in a John Lewis Christmas ad.
  • Only 2 artists who sung the new versions of John Lewis Christmas ad songs were in the charts that year – Ellie Goulding (2010) and Bastille (2019).
  • 5 artists who sang in John Lewis Christmas ad songs had never previously featured in the UK charts.
  • 35% of John Lewis Christmas ads have nostalgia as the main driving emotion behind the story.

Sian said: “We broke down 10 years of John Lewis Christmas ads and discovered that the top feeling behind the stories driving each ad is nostalgia (35%), followed by friendship (25%) and humour (20%), then finally romance and excitement at 10% each.”

She added: “A story wouldn’t be a story without its characters, and in the John Lewis Christmas campaigns, this is done excellently. Each year has a new, but always lovable, character, whether that’s an excitable animal, a cute child, a representation of Christmas as a snowman or penguin, or even a reimagined version of a classic scary character such as a monster or dragon.

“The one thing these characters all have in common is Christmas spirit – a desire to give the perfect gift, to bring people together, to experience the pure joy of the festive season.”

Bronco has also looked at evert campaign tagline and figured out which words appear the most frequently, these were (in order):

  • Give
  • Christmas
  • For
  • Someone
  • Gifts
  • Care
  • More
  • Love
  • Show

Bronco predicts that this year’s John Lewis all will have the theme of

  • The Summer We Missed: Our top prediction for 2020’s ad theme is the summer that we missed, since we couldn’t fully enjoy the one we had.
  • The Long Journey: Our alternative theme prediction goes entirely the other direction: combining that feeling of togetherness while apart with our national sense of pride this year – think Tom Moore, clapping on our doorsteps for the NHS and partying in the streets for VE Day. We believe that the focus here would be on what a long slog 2020 has been, but there are always things to look forward to and good times ahead.

They also say it will feature tropical birds such as a toucan; a koala or a husky.

Bronco’s predictions for the song that will be used in this year’s campaign are:

  • Dancing in the Streets by Martha and the Vandellas – originally released in 1964, this would be the oldest song yet, but it’s a classic. We can see this working perfectly for celebrating national pride.
  • Club Tropicana by Wham! – fits the timeline being released in 1983 and has that summery celebration feel.
  • Lean on Me by Bill Withers – originally released in 1972, and fits with the feel of 2020 in general.

2020’s Artist

Bronco’s predictions for the artist who will sing this year’s version of the song:

  • Grace Carter: a relatively unknown British acoustic voice but has supported bigger artists like Dua Lipa.
  • Robyn : an alternative Swedish artist (like Aurora from John Lewis’ 2015 Man on the Moon campaign).
  • Jorja Smith : a popular British artist who hasn’t yet had a UK number 1.

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