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CREATIVE STRATEGY: John Lewis tugs the heart strings (and the purse strings)

Is there anything left to say about the John Lewis Partnership Christmas TV commercial? Perhaps. First there is the gag about what's in the box that the wee lad takes into his parents' bedroom on Christmas morning - his sister's head?

John Lewis: Christmas 2011 TV campaign

John Lewis: Christmas 2011 TV campaign

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On a more serious note, any ad that makes it to the top of the most popular stories on the BBC website has clearly made an impact.

No longer just a big shop touting its wares, John Lewis has captured one of the dreams that makes the season of goodwill all warm and fuzzy.

So, as the nation’s middle class mums go all teary over the eggnog, how does this commercial compare to its high street rivals?

Over to M&S. Once the darling of middle England, the store has lurched from one crisis to another like your colleague who had one too many at the office party.

Recently, in a desperate bid to shed its old "racks of slacks" image, M&S sexed-up its clothing ranges and brought in the celebs.

Have Twiggy and crew done the job?  We’ll see.  But in the meantime, M&S has deployed a different kind of celebrity.  The Z-list kind.  Or as they would prefer to be known, 'The X Factor' finalists...


When an ad from M&S is on a par with Iceland’s feeble effort "starring" Stacey Solomon, you have to worry...


How much does all this matter when the sound of sleigh-bells will be drowned out by ringing tills?  Surely everyone in the garlanded mall will get their share of festive dosh?

Sadly not, gentle reader.

Those without a clear strategy, good product, superior service and cracking ads will find their stocking empty.

Arcadia (Top Shop, BHS et alia) is planning to close up to 260 stores over the next few years.  Who’s to say that M&S in particular doesn’t face a similar plight?  Bah humbug, indeed. 

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones

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