Consumer: 'Shine your shoes with banana skins'

The wartime classic Make Do And Mend was rewritten via a consultation with all 28,000 John Lewis partners and retirees.

Advice: John Lewis offered suggestions in Make Do and Mend
Advice: John Lewis offered suggestions in Make Do and Mend

Campaign Relaunch of Make Do and Mend
Client John Lewis
PR team Twelve Thirty Eight
Timescale April 2009-present
Budget Less than £10,000

A 'call to arms' advertisement was placed in the John Lewis Gazette, inviting partners to submit their advice. All the submissions were reviewed and a selection of the very best was incorporated into the new version.

To make it topical, the tips included a mixture of traditional advice alongside tips on getting the most out of gadgets, including how to choose the right sized TV for your living room.

Twelve Thirty Eight initiated the project in the spring and handled the launch for John Lewis. The 30-page booklet was priced at £3 and all proceeds went to the John Lewis Foundation.

Objectives

  • To raise awareness of the new edition of Make Do And Mend
  • To drive footfall to stores
  • To drive sales of the book.

Strategy and plan

The team arranged archive photography, in-store photography and briefed spokespeople, including retired partners who could comment on their experience of the original guide.

In keeping with the theme of a modern facelift for a much-loved classic, the PR team set up a dedicated Twitter feed carrying snippets of advice from the new guide.

Make Do and MendCopies of the booklet were sent to key contacts in national print and broadcast media along with images and a list of the most interesting tips, such as 'shine your shoes using the inside of a banana skin'.

A 'then and now' comparison of advice from the original and updated guides was released alongside a list and pictures of a new range of 'miracle products' that inc- luded banana skins, toothpaste, WD40 and eggshells.

A series of Make Do And Mend workshops were set up to be held in John Lewis stores through the autumn and winter and journalists from daily, weekly and long-lead media outlets were invited.

Measurement and evaluation

The initial announcement was covered on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the BBC News Channel, on several regional BBC radio stations and in the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, London Evening Standard, The Guardian, The Scotsman and in regional press.

There was also extensive coverage online, including a feature on the BBC News website.

Results

The new version of Make Do and Mend was the top-selling book in John Lewis in the week of launch, outstripping all chart titles, and remained at the top of the charts, outselling Jamie Oliver's new cookbook by four copies to one.

The store ordered a rush reprint to cope with the demand and has had two serious approaches from UK publishing companies.

The response from journalists invited to the Make Do and Mend workshops has been overwhelming.

 

Second Opinion

Natalie MinterNatalie Minter, Head of client services, McKenna Townsend PR

As with most things in life, timing is everything and the launch of John Lewis' modern twist on a wartime classic has tapped into the psyche of the British nation at the perfect time. Launching a new version of a 66-year-old book, which at the time of production was essentially propaganda, is no mean feat. It is a brave high street retailer that goes head-to-head with online giants mid-recession.

However, Twelve Thirty Eight's involvement in the project throughout the process has clearly paid dividends. The employee engagement at a time when many businesses are cutting head count, bucks the trend to spectacular effect. The offline media launch campaign achieved an impressive array of national broadcast coverage, including the nemesis of all product launches - the BBC. A £10,000 campaign that returns an investment of 40:1 is few and far between. Endorsement from The Imperial War Museum adds a level of credibility and reinforces the British heritage of the campaign.

The online element of the campaign was fairly limited and there is potential to achieve greater leverage within this community. It could use online video demonstrations to provide a framework to set up 'Make do and Mend Parties' at home. This would open up the campaign to the new cash-strapped generation for whom 'staying in' is the new 'going out'. Make Do and Mend could be the Vogue for the credit crunch bunch.

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