Penguin for Your Thoughts: 3 Reasons Why That John Lewis Ad Went Viral

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Digital Engagement
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Until last week, I would've guessed John Lewis was merely some faceless man I'd never met. But, thanks to the brilliant minds behind the brand's latest holiday ad campaign, this U.K. department store can officially claim responsibility for making my heart grow three sizes in just two minutes' time.

Until last week, I would've guessed John Lewis was merely some faceless man I'd never met. But, thanks to the brilliant minds behind the brand's latest holiday ad campaign, this U.K. department store can officially claim responsibility for making my heart grow three sizes in just two minutes' time.You see, last week, I stumbled upon the video while perusing Twitter. Nearly every entertainment outlet was posting about this unlikely trending topic, so curiosity got the better of me. (There's an adorable penguin involved, so I couldn't very well ignore it for long, now could I?) Upon viewing, I learned the advertisement was about a young boy, Sam, his lovable companion, Monty the penguin, and their inseparable bond. Impressed by the sentimental tone of this touching glimpse into Sam's imaginative world, I couldn't help but marvel at this video's inherent simplicity. Christmas campaigns are a dime a dozen, but those that truly capture the essence of the season are typically few and far between.

But what makes this John Lewis campaign so successful exactly? Let me count the ways...

1. Sam and Monty bring out everyone's inner child. From the start, this video portrays an air of childlike innocence that appeals to consumers both young and old. For children, Sam and Monty represent friendship and fun, while adults are overcome with nostalgia for yesteryear. Many spend their entire adult lives trying to recapture that sense of wonder and whimsy that once defined the holiday season. Thus, campaigns that spark imagination, thereby emphasizing magic over money, remind us of what once was good and wholesome.

2. Monty's quest for love reminds us of the reason for the season. Though the campaign focuses upon Sam and Monty's friendship, we quickly learn that this dear penguin longs for something more. Every time he sees couples holding hands, his wide-eyed gaze signals his wish for a lady friend of his very own. Sam notices and selflessly welcomes Mabel into the family, emphasizing the importance of love and goodwill toward all. Here, love overshadows the commercialization of Christmas, bringing consumers back to the holiday's altruistic roots.

3. John Lewis looks beyond sales by using emotion to win increased customer engagement. While consumers understand that this advertisement was designed to ignite interest and encourage spend, the campaign also features an array of elements that, when combined, create an experience that extends the brand's reach. From the accompanying book and interactive world, to Monty's app and Twitter account, John Lewis generates demand by cultivating engagement across multiple channels, tugging at consumers' heartstrings and wallets simultaneously. (Here's proof--the plush Monty and Mabel toys have already sold out!)

Haven't seen the ad yet? Check out the video below, and click here to learn more about Sam and Monty's adventures.

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