What John Lewis Can Teach You About Being Unforgettable

It is that time of year again, when the big names create their Christmas Adverts.  John Lewis over the last few years has created fabulous stories – the one from two year’s ago with the animated bear is ingrained in my children’s memories (especially since it came with its own ipad app).  Last year’s penguins had us all saying “Awww”.

This year, the story is about reaching out to those who are lonely or a long way away.

But instead of just watching it and thinking “that was amazing”, let’s look at it in detail to discover what you can learn from it about being Unforgettable..

Surprise Me

Within the first twenty seconds of the advert, we see something extraordinary.  The girl looks surprised and then zeroes in on a house in a crater on the moon.  A truly “attention grabbing” moment for those watching.  You want to know what happens, who this person is.  The film made me curious and spellbound and unable to click away until I find out what happens next.

Keep It Simple

There are only two characters in this film – the man and the girl.  The more characters or details you have in a story, the more your audience have to concentrate to keep track (think Tom Clancy novel).  This one is as simple as it can be.  Two strong, clear, contrasting characters that your audience can relate to.

Make it Vivid

The expression on the man’s face as he looks up is so filled with loneliness, you can’t help but feel moved by him.  This contrasts brilliantly with the excitement of the girl waving.  Just 35 seconds in and there is this beautiful tension in the story – between the happy girl and the sad man.   They bring those emotions to life using vivid visuals – what more perfect expression of loneliness is a man sat on a bench on a planet all on his own?  Then the lyrics of the song echo the feelings “my body is young, but my mind is very old” as the camera zooms into the man’s eyes.

Break the Spell

If your audience feels too sad, there’s a risk that they might turn off to break the spell.  Instead, John Lewis does this for us.  We have been touched by the old man’s plight, so the video moves into humour, to break the tension.  The cleverly shot ladder to the moon gets us all thinking “there’s an idea…” and its followed by the girl’s creative attempts to make contact.  Because this video is not about sending a letter as such, but about creating a connection with someone.

And we wonder just how this problem might be solved, as the lyrics make it seem impossible by reminding us “you are half the world away.” 

Happily Ever After

There is the girl’s delighted face as she opens something we cannot see (what can it be? we wonder) and then hugs her mum.  The man looks even more dejected with his head bowed.  Just as we begin to lose faith, the balloon-fuelled parcel arrives – a gloriously colourful package that breaks through the monotone grey of the moon.  The audience now whoops and hollers – the problem is solved, their tension is released and we have a happily ever after.  The man knows he is loved – how wonderful.

This is when I started crying my eyes out.  And because it has touched me that deeply, I know that this story will last for years in my mind, body and soul.

Not only that, but the first morning it was on Facebook, it was spreading like wildfire.  Because we all love a happily ever after story.  And this one made us feel good.

Result: Unforgettable

John Lewis have tapped into something within all of us.  Something simple and powerful: our desire to feel special, to feel loved.

The next time you want to create something that is truly Unforgettable, try taking a leaf out of the John Lewis’ playbook.