John Lewis ad gives Age UK a social boost

Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

The John Lewis Christmas adverts have become a yearly highlight of the media calendar in the UK, generating the kind of buzz normally reserved for a Game of Thrones season premiere.

This year the advert was released at 8am on YouTube and Twitter before being aired on Friday night primetime TV during the popular GoggleBox show. We tracked Twitter discussions of the advert throughout the entire day using Sysomos MAP, with tweet volume shown in the chart below.


2015 all day timeline

The interesting thing about this chart is that it shows just how much the discussion of the YouTube video dwarfs that of the primetime TV spot. These adverts have now become a cultural phenomenon in their own right, people actively seek them out online and share them with their networks. The ‘lean back’ TV audience in the evening appears significantly less socially engaged with the ad than the ‘lean forward’ online audience.

The YouTube video received approximately 5.5 million views throughout the first day, while GoggleBox was watched by an audience of about 4.7 million.

We analysed the conversations that took place during the daytime and compared against those that happened after the ad was screened on TV and found that they were broadly quite similar. However, in the daytime 59% of people tweeting about John Lewis were female, and that number rose to 68% during the TV broadcast. On the same topic, when we analysed the people who retweeted John Lewis’ original tweet about the advert, we found that 73% were women.

This year’s ad was based around the theme of loneliness at Christmas, with John Lewis partnering with elderly care charity, Age UK. On the day the advert debuted, Age UK enjoyed a massive spike in Twitter discussions, hitting just under 10,000 mentions compared to a typical daily average of around 500, as shown in the below chart. The charity’s official Twitter profile also appears to have benefited from a small surge of new followers, increasing by at least 1,000 followers to 83,340 over the space of a couple of days.

Age UK

Compared to the previous year’s advert, 2015 saw a slight increase in the volume of conversation on launch day. In 2014 there were just under 100,000 mentions of John Lewis during the day the advert premiered, and in 2015 there were just over 100,000, and as you can see from the below chart, this completely dwarfs the regular volume of discussion around the brand across the rest of the year.

YoY analysis

John Lewis certainly seems to have hit on a winning formula by tugging on people’s heartstrings in the run up to Christmas. The wordcloud analysis of tweets about the advert includes lots of words like emotional, crying, tears, cute, tissues, and many of the same words were found in a similar analysis of the previous year’s advert.


Will John Lewis continue with this successful approach in 2016, or is it time for the brand to try something new? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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