Storytelling Makes Sir Elton And 'Rang-Tan' Christmas Winners

The votes are in -- and this year's John Lewis ad is getting lots of love from fans on social media. More than a quarter of reactions to it are the love heart emoji, which rates it as better loved than #MozTheMonster, which got loved 15% of the time but then had the ignominy of being the store's most quickly forgotten festive ad ever.

It isn't surprising, because it's a very well made ad that grabs your attention the first time you see it and end up asking, who is playing Sir Elton in each scene -- and how on earth did his mum sneak a piano in the front room on Christmas Eve without him noticing?

Does John Lewis even sell pianos? A quick search shows they do -- well, they do now, anyway.

Adam & Eve/DDB deserve some serious plaudits for a beautifully shot and edited ad. All that you would expect from a John Lewis festive blockbuster is there, albeit this time with a star who is a real-life celebrity and not a trampolining dog, stuffed monster or penguin. We have the set-up, the haunting tune everyone can sing along to, the beautifully told story and then the tear-jerker moment of reflection of Christmas joy through the eyes of a child being remembered by an older man who sat at that piano.

The result is a campaign that has been far better received early on in the campaign than last year's Moz and had also been viewed slightly more times after its debut with around 10m views on Facebook and YouTube. I suspect last year's Moz will be seen as a slight dip in the annual focus the public hands out to John Lewis ads. Moz was great, but it seemed to drift off in appeal, the figures suggest. 

This year's ad proves again that it's hard to outdo John Lewis for storytelling at Christmas. The big emotional roller-coaster journey pretty much belongs to the cooperatively owned retail chain, usually delivered with a poignant tag line such as this year's reminder on thoughtful present-buying that some gifts are much more than just a gift.

M&S has stepped away a little from the storytelling this year to focus on its celebrity and the stock it sells -- and, I have to be honest, I'm a fan of a great ad, that actually says something about the brand and what it has to sell. 

I completely concur with Mediatel's observation that many Christmas ads err far too much on being all about brand and concentrate far too little on activation. The site makes the point that Sainsbury's festive ad looks great, if a little familiar, and yet there is nothing about the brand in there. If you were shown the ad again, most would struggle to remember whom it is for, until the brand appears at the end. 

So, it's fair to say that taking on John Lewis at Christmas for storytelling is a very tough challenge. However, you could also argue that the ad's brand boost will soon be forgotten once the New Year sales are on.

Perhaps, then, it is Sir Elton John who is the big winner this year? He has a biopic movie coming out next year and launched tickets for his farewell tour to roughly coincide with the John Lewis ad debuting across the nation. You can't get a better shop window at Christmas saying that you're back in the game than the one advert the entire country awaits every festive season.

The other winner this year is, of course, Iceland's "Rang-Tan," which has been viewed online more than any other Christmas advert ever.

Sir Elton John and an orangutan winning Christmas. What were the odds of that at the start of the year? 

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