John Lewis' Xmas ad to be ‘Covid-appropriate’ as it works to 'modernise' brand purpose

John Lewis & Partners: last year's ad starred lovable dragon Edgar
John Lewis & Partners: last year's ad starred lovable dragon Edgar

Purpose review will look at inequality, wellbeing and sustainability.

This year's much-anticipated John Lewis & Partners Christmas ad will be "Covid-appropriate" as the retailer deals with creating a "modernised" brand purpose for its marketing.

Speaking during a call with journalists about the company's financial results this morning, Pippa Wicks, executive director of John Lewis, explained that the festive work by Adam & Eve/DDB will be "very much on purpose".

John Lewis is also set to unveil a festive emporium in the brand's Oxford Street store, as well as digital tutorials on how to dress a tree and build a wreath.

Chairman Dame Sharon White explained that the company is reviewing its brand purpose, which will tackle inequality, wellbeing and sustainability.

She said: "We already have a purpose, this is about modernising it and making it more customer relevant as well as meeting the needs and aspirations of our partners who are very important constituents in all of this."

White added that there will be more details on this in mid-October and said that the review is about creating business that people want to come and buy from.

She said: "We know that customers are looking to buy some things differently. They're paying a lot of attention to the values and the purposes of the businesses they buy from, and we're looking at that very carefully."

'Never knowingly undersold'

White also discussed the "Never knowingly undersold" slogan, which, it was revealed last month, she will be dropping.

While she acknowledged that the slogan "was really appropriate for the time" when it first launched, White maintained that it "needs modernising and refreshing because we've excluded online from that process".

"We are looking holistically at what the John Lewis brand stands for," White said. "We are also reviewing how we ensure that our brand stands for great value for money and fairness in blending with our quality standards that we have."

White said the brand is set to release an autumn home advertising campaign looking into John Lewis & Partners' "price levels and hierarchies". This, she said, will "deliver a message about where we are from a value-for-money perspective".

'A creditable performance'

The John Lewis Partnership reported a pre-tax loss of £635m in the six months to 25 July after department store John Lewis & Partners was severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The figure compares with a profit of £192m in the same period last year.

White, who was named chairwoman of John Lewis & Partners in February, deemed the half-year results "a creditable performance under the circumstances" in spite of the closure of eight John Lewis stores and plans to close three Waitrose stores in the aftermath of lockdown.

Sales increased by a dismal 1% across the company, with shoppers spending money on digital items and essentials such as toilet paper during the beginning of the UK's lockdown.

"In April, we set out a worst-case scenario for the full year of a sales fall of 5% in Waitrose and 35% in John Lewis – that remains our worst-case view," White said. "We now believe the most likely outcome will be a small loss or a small profit for the year."

The company also confirmed that there will not be a bonus at all next year and it does not intend to begin paying a bonus again until profits exceed £150m.

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