So it's finally here! The marketing event of the year, which officially starts the countdown to Christmas. And yes, it is only 49 days to go...
So how do little Monty and Sam fare against previous John Lewis efforts? Pretty good, I think. As to be expected, it's a heart-warming tear-jerker that's bound to make you feel all loving and Christmassy.
Now I'm no Scrooge, but in some ways I think the "magic" of this wonderful advert is somewhat ruined by the social elements of the campaign. To me, the hashtag #MontyThePenguin has been great in getting the fire started over the past few days, both on and offline - so why not just leave it there? Monty and Mabel both have their own Twitter accounts, as did the Bear and Hare of the 2013 campaign and the Snowmen in 2012. But can the story really continue outside the 2 minute clip - and more importantly, do we want it to? I'm perfectly satisfied with the ending of the ad, and having a fictional penguin tweet how he's looking for love for the next two months does sort of feel like overkill.
Less offensive for me is the amount of merchandise John Lewis have created off the back of this spot. Is there something wrong with all the kids out there wanting toy penguins for Christmas this year? Yes the items are pretty pricey, but it speaks volumes about how powerful the "John Lewis Christmas ad" brand (of whatever iteration) can be.
It does mark a change though in the concepting and forethought that goes into these tear-jerking ads. Remember this adorable spot from 2011?
Did it come with all the added social/merchandising/a billion other channels? But was it still an ad to remember? It's clear the first step in creating these famed Christmas is not just "how can we create something beautiful and heart-warming" but "how can we move the concepts of the ad into other areas". I imagine any ideas which didn't have characters easily applicable to social or merchandise items were immediately shot down.
Perhaps I'm just being old-fashioned, and should be embracing John Lewis for keeping with the times and adopting this multi-channel strategy. In all fairness, they've done an incredible job of maximising the impact from one TV ad slot. And with these ads costing in excess of £1M, it's not surprising they want to.