Is Moz really Monty in a bigger suit?' It could be the reason why the campaign lacks talkability

In today's fast-forward, ad-blocking, box set-watching world, I take my hat off to John Lewis for making one of the few campaigns people still talk about. Until now.

It's not the PR around the campaign which is broken, it just doesn't feel different enough, argues Frankie Oliver
While adam&eve/DDB had been making amazing ads for the retailer since 2009, the point where they became truly epic was in 2013 with the Bear and the Hare.

This campaign marked a moment when Christmas advertising turned to movie-quality scripts, animation and production to gain the attention of an arguably entertainment-gorged public.

Since then we’ve had Monty the Penguin, the Man on the Moon (my personal favourite), Buster the Boxer and now Moz the Monster. 

I spent last night looking back over all the campaign with my four-year-old son. He loved them all, and Moz was of course a real winner.

But why had it perhaps not sustained the great public interest like the previous campaigns?

In my opinion, it’s got nothing to do with PR around the campaign, which has been mooted as a factor.

Awareness of John Lewis Christmas campaigns is not dependent on PR alone but rather on the quality of the campaign itself.

Moz is still a really good campaign, but it doesn’t seem new or different enough. It actually felt like a sequel to Monty the Penguin.

In my opinion, it’s got nothing to do with PR around the campaign which has been mooted as a factor. Moz is still a really good campaign, but it doesn’t seem new or different enough.

Frankie Oliver, founder and managing director of Jolly Rebellion 

I think people thought 'it’s charming, but it’s not special'. And John Lewis campaigns are normally really special.

Each campaign before this told a different story with a treatment that felt truly fresh, universal and got right under our British skin of what Christmas was all about.

Buster the Boxer, John Lewis’s best-performing campaign, did so well because it connected the magic of Christmas night with brilliant comedy every British household could relate too.

It tickled my dad pink, who peered up from the Saturday Telegraph one day to tell me ‘do you know John Lewis has sold out of buster the dog’. That in my world is the moment a campaign has become a cultural moment.

Whilst the campaign was well integrated across social and in-store, Moz the Monster perhaps didn’t contain quite enough humour or emotion that made enough people naturally want to talk about it.

Previous campaign made people think 'wow, I so get that and I can’t help but want to cry'.

Moz, like Monty, was a sweet story of a boy and his cuddly fury friend. But it finished it off with a slightly clunky ending about a nightlight, where other campaigns included products seamlessly or focused more on the act of giving than the product itself.

So do I think the John Lewis formula is broken?

No, not at all. I just think they perhaps forgot what the brilliant formula was.

Don’t go back and reinvent. Tell us a new beautiful story that connects us with our Christmas past, but not the John Lewis Christmas past.

Frankie Oliver is the founder and managing director of Jolly Rebellion

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