It’s freezing and John Lewis have released their annual event ad. Must be Christmas.

Here are a few quick takeaways:

  • This year’s offering is quite a bit more traditional than the 2015 ad. A simple and safe vision featuring anthropomorphized animals and a similarly wide eyed and cute family (although only the animals are CGI), it relies on humour rather than plucked heartstrings to render us insensible.
  • It goes without saying that the John Lewis Christmas ad is part of the seasonal furniture. It is clearly a PR success, in that it gets people and media talking about it, but it is also a broader branding success. John Lewis always posit their CSR with care, and this year find themselves energising (and drawing energy from) The Wildlife Trust.
  • They also make sure that no cross-channel opportunity is missed – see two Christmas number ones in recent years for evidence, and don’t be surprised if One Day I’ll Fly Away by the Vaults follows that lead.
  • No really successful marketing event is complete without a range of toys and of course the animals seen in the 2016 advert are all available for purchase. Manipulation, schmanipulation: I want them all.
  • We’ve seen some complaints about the advert. Amazingly, Santa not being in the ad was enough of an issue for enough people to force the retailer to tell the Independent that Santa “…also visited Bridget and Buster the night before.”
  • Finally, John Lewis, as with all successful brands and adverts, have seen other competing retailers doing their utmost to out John Lewis them. Marks & Spencer and Waitrose have both released suspiciously samey ads this year. There will come a point when no amount of success (or cute foxes) in the world will stop a formula seeming overused and samey. That point hasn’t yet been reached (did I mention how much I want the toy foxes?), but it’ll only get harder and harder for them to make these event ads work every year in a derivative environment.