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Newsletter #2 | Distinctiveness, consistency, and how John Lewis drove £1.2bn in incremental sales.
Consistency, while not always notable, is meaningful.
Keeping brands “fresh” sees campaigns change more frequently than is required. Worries of ad-decay and wear-out belay the fact that ads are most effective when they wear-in.
This is particularly apparent around the holidays. UK advertisers will spend an extra £1bn on Christmas campaigns this year. No wonder. Christmas generates between 50% and 80% of annual sales revenues.
Poor branding is one of three main reasons why ads fail. 50% of people who see an ad fail to associate it with the correct brand. Distinctiveness should be as much of a priority as emotion and purpose for marketers who want those effectiveness gains.
Successful distinctiveness, built through consistent branding, can drive meaningful and compounding growth over time.
During a decade (2010-19) of low economic growth, John Lewis has grown 4.4 times faster than competitors with £1.2bn in incremental sales.
A decade analysis from Warc places the #1 learning from John Lewis's is "the power of consistency: consistency is rare and undervalued in creative agencies."
Their 2021 contribution “An Unexpected Guest” dropped earlier than ever before (Nov 4th) as their “most merchandised” Christmas campaign.
And it divided marketers. Abba Newbery, CMO, Habito, wrote “Oh gosh, John Lewis. Asking to comment is like judging an X Factor song.”
NB. although even John Lewis has room to improve their social execution (see screenshot or read Oliver Hills, CEO of Nonsensical’s post for more).
There is a lot more to brand success than consistency alone; emotional storytelling, aiming for fame, measuring the long and the short.
Other contenders - like Aldi - are pulling different levers for effectiveness. Aldi's "A Christmas Carrot" (that Kantar is suggesting is the top ad of the season) combines familiar plot lines - like Dickens A Christmas Carol - with humour to build original characters into distinctive brand assets.
Across 24 ads, "A Christmas Carrot" ranked top for most "festive", "enjoyable", "distinctive", and "meaningful" - but it fell short on "branding". This won by Coca Cola's annual "Holidays Are Coming" campaign that has run consistently since 1995. Read a rare interview from Aldi director Mark Richardson earlier this month for more on Aldi's creative ethos.
We analyzed three years (60 ads) of Xmas ads last year to see how the pandemic was influencing creative choices. We reran the same analysis with 20 Xmas ads from this year. Here are the top three things we found:
Thanks for reading - happy holidays!
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