The King of Christmas Adverts… or PR?

It’s almost Christmas and I’m sat in the library writing ANOTHER essay, not feeling Christmassy at all. So I thought I would have a break from writing about ethics (as exciting as it is) and write something about Christmas!

Since I have started my course, I’m pretty sure a week hasn’t gone by where someone has mentioned how PR and advertising are NOT the same thing.  This is the CIPR’s (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) definition of PR:

“Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.
Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

And this is the IPA’s (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) definition of advertising:

“In its simplest terms, advertising:

1. Identifies a current problem/opportunity for a product, service or corporate brand

2. Identifies the consumers who can best solve/create that problem/opportunity

3. Creates the most relevant and distinctive way of communicating to them in creative and media terms”

So, pretty clear isn’t it? Almost everything you see on TV, in newspapers, on the side of a bus, is probably advertising. The space has been paid for and it is a form of one-way communication.

However, an advert comes out every single year that almost everyone is anticipating, which is of course, it’s the John Lewis advert. We all have our favourites – mine has to be the 2014 story of Monty the penguin – but we have to admit, when we see it, we know Christmas has begun.

It is estimated that the latest advert cost a total of £7million. Now that is crazy money, and apparently, £6million of that money was spent on TV advertising time to show it. So that means it must be an advert.

But actually, it’s an extremely clever PR campaign. The buzz that surrounds it weeks before the release and the tweets from the public are types of shared media. This carries on after the release, with aspects such as the Twitter hashtag #BusterTheBoxer, which magnifies the reach of the campaign into almost everyone’s consciousness. Paid media is of course the advert in itself. They use earned media in a huge way, by getting an enormous amount of media coverage in newspapers before and after the release.

They don’t just create the advert though, there are lots of other aspects which adds to the size of the campaign. Each year an adorable cuddly toy is available to purchase from John Lewis stores – this year you can buy Buster and his woodland friends that appear in the advertisement.

They then pair each year’s advert with a charity, with this year’s partnership being with The Wildlife Trusts and 10% of the purchase price of the cuddly toys is donated to the charity of choice.

So, although the adverts are the main focus, many people don’t realise there is a huge PR campaign that has been meticulously planned in order to make them a huge success each and every year. PR teams have realised the demand for Christmas adverts and have cleverly latched onto it.

From the social media activities, the merchandise, the charity partnerships and the advert in itself, John Lewis really know how to pull off the perfect PR campaign, without you even realising! And that’s what it’s all about.

Here is this years advert. Let me know your favourites!



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