This year’s much anticipated Christmas ad from UK retailers John Lewis Partnership, who also own Waitrose supermarkets, shows a middle-aged man teaching himself to skateboard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z0jfP2gCIs
He skates under his office desk. Down a steep suburban street. In a deserted skatepark at night. Despite some bumps and bruises, he perseveres and slowly makes progress.
The film’s soundtrack, sung by Mike Geier, is an emotional and slowed-down version of ‘All the small things’, a twenty-year old hit from Blink 182, who emerged from Southern California’s 1990’s skate-punk scene.
At the end we discover the man is a foster parent. The timid child entering his care is also a keen skateboarder. He’s found something in common to make her feel at home. The payoff from John Lewis: “Over 108,000 children in the UK are in the care system. We’re making a long-term commitment to support the futures of young people in care”.
Developed with partner charities, Action for Children and Who Cares? Scotland, the ninety-second ad is part of the retail giant’s Building Happier Futures campaign. It was directed by Biscuit Filmworks through adam&eveDDB in London.
This is beautifully crafted and well-acted film. It’s a great example of purpose-driven brand advertising: John Lewis doing some real good in the community by supporting the UK’s underfunded care system, and then talking about it. Consumers are increasingly expecting the brands they choose, even retailer brands, to share their values.
The Covid pandemic caused many people to re-order their own priorities. Community service, inclusion, equality, and sustainability all became more important. A recent Harris Poll, commissioned by Google, found that over 80% of shoppers want a brand’s values to align with their own.
Furthermore, consumers are now voting with their feet. Three-quarters of the shoppers surveyed said they had recently parted ways with a brand over a conflict in values. A majority of them also felt many brands were overstating their sustainability credentials.