On the real and virtual high streets of the UK, John Lewis – an employee owned UK department store – owns Christmas. The launch of the John Lewis Christmas advert has become an important part of British Christmas preparations. This years advert ‘Man on the Moon’ was released last Friday and is the story of a young girl called Lily. She looks at the moon through a telescope one night and sees a man on the moon. It cost £7 million to make.
Here it is. #manonthemoon
This year John Lewis teamed up with Age UK. I know. Age UK are not mentioned in the advert. There is no logo. No call to action. No text to donate.
What happened? Did Age UK mess up?
Age UK launched its ‘No one should have no one’ campaign back in January with the aim of raising awareness of the fact that many older people have no one to turn to. It estimates that more than 1 million older people haven’t spoken to a friend, relative or neighbour for at least a month.
Age UK had a good but fairly low-level transactional relationship with John Lewis. During the making of the advert the team at John Lewis noticed that there were many synergies with Man on the Moon and the ‘no one should have no one’ campaign. The team at John Lewis got in touch with Age UK to ask them what they thought of the concept and if they would like to be involved.
Age UK seized this opportunity to work with John Lewis. It was a chance for Age UK to touch the hearts of the British public and make a powerful and emotive message hit home – that loneliness is devastating for many older people.
The partnership between Age UK and JohnLewis involves a range of fundraising and awareness raising mechanisms:
- All PR and associated materials sends traffic to the Age UK website.
- People can donate to Age UK in store.
- There is a range of associated products to buy in store.
- Age UK have local partners across the UK. It was important that the partnership worked on a local and national level. All 45 John Lewis stores are matched with a local Age UK partner and John Lewis are paying for those local partners to put on a Christmas lunch or have a Christmas outing like going to see a pantomime.
- Every local partner is invited to the John Lewis community matters coin scheme so the local community can raise money for them
Wouldn’t it be better to just give Age UK a cheque?
The partnership has received a 99% positive sentiment by the public. However there will always be some who feel that the emotional hype and publicity is not warranted and it would be better for John Lewis to give Age UK a cheque and be done with it.
When I asked Laurie Boult, Head of Fundraising at Age UK about some of the criticism she said, “We seized the opportunity to benefit from it. We would not have that budget to spend on that kind of reach, partnering with John Lewis helps us tell more people about how loneliness effects older people, and what they can do to help”
- According to communications company Hotwire, by Thursday, there had already been more than 2,000 mentions of the #onthemoon teaser hashtag for this year’s advert.
- On Friday, the day the advert was released, Age UK received an interaction (web, or phone) every minute – which is unheard of.
- Age UK are already seeing significant uplift to donations and requests to volunteer.
- There has been an impact on existing corporate relationships, employees are calling Age UK to ask what more they can do to up their fundraising targets (which can only be good if staff have a say about which charity the company supports).
- London marathon runners, with their own place, now want to run for Age UK.
- The Man on the Moon has bought internal teams together behind an absolute focus on the importance of the work that they do.
- The John Lewis advert wasn’t in plan, so teams have rallied together to manage the increased workload which has created a renewed feeling of pride and excitement in the work they do at every level of the organisation.
“If it feels like it’s too good to be missed – then it is. For Age UK, working with this iconic trusted household brand at Christmas, gives us the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the issues of loneliness that older people experience in a powerful and heart warming way” Laurie Boult, Head of Fundraising, Age UK
It is too early to see the full impact that Man on the Moon will have for Age UK, but one thing is Age UK did not mess up. They lucked out. They were in the right place at the right time. John Lewis were already aware of their work. They had a good relationship that they built on. They secured a partnership that will make a big difference to the lives of older people. Sometimes that means letting go of what ‘normally’ happens on an advert to focus on the bigger picture. Like a logo. Or a text to donate. I bet that was a tough call. But I think the right one.