Adwise – #ManOnTheMoon

A Very Merry John Lewismas

Our adwise series looks at impressive, creative and memorable marketing campaigns. Today you can add festive to that list too.

John Lewis – #ManOnTheMoon


After a mysterious teaser campaign on social media encouraged people to share #OnTheMoon, the advert that everyone was waiting for finally landed.

The launch of John Lewis’ seasonal TV ad is one of the sure signs that Christmas is coming. And if the response on social media was anything to go by, it didn’t disappoint! Three hours after the ad appeared online there were 39,872 mentions on Twitter of #manonthemoon and #onthemoon.

The #ManOnTheMoon advert has all the elements of the kind of “event advertising” that many brands are now starting to launch around Christmas. It’s deeply emotive, embraces magic and delivers a heart-warming message. It carefully treads the line of feeling festively cosy whilst delivering a hard-hitting message about loneliness and the elderly at Christmas. Sainsbury’s “Mog’s Christmas Calamity” campaign follows the same feel-good formula with a charitable message.

Tis the season…

Man On The Moon tear

When we’re all caught up in the Christmas joys and festivities, it can be easy to forget that there are still people out there who are desperately lonely.

John Lewis wanted to highlight this using their existing relationship with Age UK. They already donate a percentage of their profits to the charity and also give money whenever a retired member of staff passes away.

In recent years, rather than focussing on promoting a long list of specific products, John Lewis has employed a creative strategy that’s more about storytelling than selling; from their adventurous snowman to the Bear and the Hare, and Monty the Penguin. This year, they used the same approach to highlight Age UK’s important message.

The moon and more

It’s worth clarifying that we’re well aware this is a commercial campaign. Even though it conveys an important message, this is an advert for a department store at the busiest time of the year for any retail business. The initial industry reaction was positive, and we’ll address some of the more cynical responses in a moment, but we wanted to look at the campaign on a technical level as well as an emotional one.

To begin with, knowing that John Lewis carefully plan their Christmas campaigns months in advance (starting the process in January apparently) it’s obviously not just a happy coincidence that on this Christmas Day we’ll experience a full moon. It’s a small detail, but one that shows you just how much thought goes into a campaign that will only last for a few weeks of the year.

Quite frankly, we can’t help but be impressed by the attention to detail that also went into the digital offshoots and other contributing elements that were created for the campaign.

 app app 2

The Man on the Moon app brings their countdown to the full moon on Christmas Day to life with a game themed around the story in the advert and an interactive poster using augmented reality technology. Not to mention the opportunity to download the music from the advert.

The Lunar Lookout on the roof of the Oxford Street store, as well as Moon installations in selected stores, encourage footfall. And in store there are specific products created to tie in with the campaign, including pyjamas, telescopes, chocolates and wrapping paper.

They also partnered with Building Skills To Life to provide resources about the moon, encouraging children to learn more and share their drawings, stories and poems.

With an all-encompassing cross-media digital marketing campaign, John Lewis have left no moonstone unturned.

Lunar lampoons

As much as we love the #ManOnTheMoon ad, we love some of the parodies just as much. We particularly like “The Dark Side” version. Darth Vadar bonding with a little girl over Christmas gifts?

Not quite. We won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but it’s definitely worth a watch.


The dark side of the moon

As with any ad, there was always going to be some criticism. The Independent ran an article about how the ad is a commodification of loneliness. Whilst this is a little too “humbug” for us, it’s an interesting perspective nonetheless.

After all, this is commercial message. John Lewis and any number of other high-profile brands aren’t going to sit back and not advertise at Christmas. We’re not here to express an opinion either way but if these platforms can be used to raise awareness for a worthy cause as well as sell a few sets of pyjamas, is that really a bad thing?

If you need help with a creative marketing campaign that’s out of this world, give us a call.

Categories: Design, Digital Marketing

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