John Lewis comms head says brand can 'tell its story' through BBC doc

The BBC is to air an hour-long documentary about retailer John Lewis' preparations for Christmas.

The programme, fronted by presenter Cherry Healey, will be screened on BBC2 at 9.30pm on Wednesday, 23 December. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at the way John Lewis prepares for the extreme competition of the Christmas season, which accounts for up to half of its annual profits.

BBC camera crews filmed the midsummer Christmas press launch, the crafting of the Christmas commercial, the decorating of the stores for Christmas and the discounting frenzy of Black Friday. The documentary also looks at the opening of the new John Lewis’ store in Birmingham and the firm's online sales operation.

John Lewis comms director Peter Cross told PRWeek that the film came about as the result of informal conversations with the BBC, saying: "We were having a chat with the BBC and it just came up. We are approached regularly by TV companies, but we have already had the successful ‘Inside John Lewis’ series a few years ago.

"As this film has a clear purpose and narrative – our race against the Christmas deadline – it seemed the right idea. The opportunity to tell our story is very welcome. It’s the last piece of the jigsaw."

He admitted that there was a risk of being made to look stupid in such documentaries, either by events or by way the film is edited.

He said: "Yes, I could get egg on my face because we didn’t have editorial control. So there’s inevitably an element of squeaky bum time before it airs. But there’s a risk with any PR exercise. You need judgement and trust."

In recent years, John Lewis' Christmas marcoms campaign has attained the status of national event, as cemented by this year's #ManOnTheMoon creation and its Age UK charity partnership.

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