Moz The Monster: A Trend Analysis of The John Lewis Christmas Advert
Every year, come the second week in November, the nation holds its breath as we wait for the John Lewis Christmas Advert to arrive. An annual tradition for the consumers of Britain, the release of the advert symbolises the beginning of the festive period, the start of Christmas shopping, and the arrival of seasonal trends for marketers across the world. In 2011, we had The Long Wait, in 2014, we met the Bear and the Hare, and now, we’ve watched Moz The Monster entertain sleepy-eyed Joe as the noisy monster under his bed.
Interestingly, however, the reception to this year’s advert, which features young boy Joe struggling to stay awake after spending all night playing with his new friend Moz, was largely negative, with audiences confused by the ending, and comparing it poorly to previous years. Some viewers felt that the heart-warming element was lost in the jolly narrative, others felt that it lacked festivity, and some simply didn’t understand the finale scene, in which Moz gives Joe a starry night lamp and lets him sleep for Christmas.
Yet, the sales predictions for John Lewis this year are still impressively high. With the associated merchandise that typically follows a festive advert from the company being showcased in the production itself, this year the products are a pair of Moz slippers, decorative mug, storybook, pyjamas and a soft Moz toy for children. Whilst these are popular children’s presents, the sales of the pricier telescope following the 2015 Man In The Moon advert revealed a 507% uplift for the company. So how have John Lewis acclaimed such high predicted sales figures? Well, it’s all in the marketing.
Before the release of the advert itself, the John Lewis marketing team made some very clever digital decisions to pique the interest of budding viewers at home. With very few details of the advert being disclosed to the public, a Twitter account with the name ‘@UnderTheBed’ was set up, and linked to the John Lewis retail account, hinting at the idea of a monster character for the story. The hashtag #UnderTheBed began to trend, and advertising posters were released with the phrase printed across an image of two spooky eyes peering out of the dark.
As the release date grew closer, more and more clues were leaked, with the monster theory being confirmed by John Lewis, and large stores around the UK transformed the O and E in the store sign to giant glowing eyes – matching those of Moz. Playing on the intrigue of the mystery production, excited viewers were left guessing the plot, themes and characters who would be featured in the advert, starting online discussions, creating widespread discourse about the topic, and creating the kind of viral buzz that most marketing brands could only dream of.
This innovative form of marketing also came with a significantly large budget of £7m, making it one of the most expensive ad campaigns this festive period, which contributed heavily to the blanket spread of clues, hints and #UnderTheBed success.
Intelligent Festive Trend Analysis
Another successful element of the John Lewis festive marketing campaign is their use of intelligent trend analysis for the Christmas period. Yearly, they play on themes of love, friendship, generosity and family, using surprising storytelling twists in soft, cosy settings to make heartwarming narratives seem feasible in an advertising setting – and this year is no different. Whilst three of the biggest festive advertising campaigns – Aldi, Vodafone and Debenhams – have featured romance heavily in their adverts, John Lewis elected to use the bond of friendship as its central narrative. Much like their previous story of Monty the Penguin, Moz the Monster showcases the relationship of young children and their imaginary friends, expressing the deep understanding and respect between the two characters – where Sam empathises with Monty’s loneliness, Moz understands Joe’s exhaustion, and both use Christmas gifts to help fix the problem.
The theme of sleep, bedtimes and the excitement of Christmas eve also plays heavily in the John Lewis marketing trends, with many of the adverts featuring nighttime journeys, sleeping bears and starry skies. This is a trend also picked up on by other brands, such as Primark, Urban Outfitters, Zara and Liberty’s, who have since showcased their own pyjama ranges, bedding and evening beauty products. The song choice even ties into this trend, with the Beatles ‘Golden Slumbers’, covered in the advert by Elbow, playing over the montage of Moz and Joe having secret midnight adventures.
Analysing these festive marketing trends is a vital part of the John Lewis ad campaign, and will help to boost their eventual sales figures by playing on the consumer need for them. Parents are now able to kit their children out with the full Moz sleepwear range, tuck them up in bed with their cuddly Moz toy, and read them the story of Moz the Monster on Christmas eve, before the big day, without hearing frightened cries about ‘the monster under my bed!’. This is intelligent marketing done well.
As the advert was released, John Lewis also introduced their child-friendly ‘build your own bear’ game, called the Monster Maker, where users can design their own Moz monster. With customisable features, and even a personalised fart generator, it’s a quick and simple game to keep the fun of Moz on going, and to help children make the monster under their bed feel that bit less scary.
We asked our Head of Marketing, Natalie Moores for her thoughts on the latest offering from John Lewis:
‘The transition through the last five years of adverts have felt like a real representation of John Lewis and this year it suddenly feels quite cold and un-magical, with a very loose connection to Christmas.
I think the journey from Man on The Moon to this is quite different, and although the commercial side of Moz was interesting, it was exactly that: too commercial.
The target audience for Moz has also cut out and excluded a large, older demographic, so where a young adult could’ve been entertained Buster the Boxer, they’re now been isolated from the message of the story’.
Despite this, with 8 years of successful festive marketing behind them, it’s easy to suggest that, at this stage, the John Lewis advert doesn’t need to be good, or clever, or well received, to do well. With clever trend analysis, curious audiences, and a big budget to play with, John Lewis’ advertising campaigns may continue for years to come – even if the end result disappoints.