Proud to Present: John Lewis

The Challenge

John Lewis’ Christmas TV commercials have captured the nation’s hearts for years.  They have had such success that their campaigns have now become synonymous with the sentiment of seasonal goodwill and have become culturally significant. 

In 2013 John Lewis wanted to keep the up the momentum and stay one step ahead of the competition.  With so much riding on at Christmas for both the brand and business they were looking for a truly innovative media first.

The Insight

The start of November is the UK’s equivalent to the US Superbowl, the biggest advertising event of the year!  Every major retailer and supermarket rolls-out the red carpet and unveils their festive TV ad in the first two weeks.  These launches are eagerly awaited by competitors and customers alike.

As Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster and the home of some of the most talked about shows at Christmas John Lewis came to us to help make 2013’s launch bigger than ever before.

 The X Factor was the perfect programme for the TV premiere of the latest Christmas commercial, ‘The Bear & Hare’, as it offered scale, talkability, and like a John Lewis advert, tons of emotion. 

The Idea

Due to the public’s appetite for the ‘next John Lewis ad’ we wanted to do the unexpected and get the nation talking about the commercial even before the very first spot had even aired with us.  Working closely with the client, Adam & Eve / DDB and Manning Gottlieb OMD we developed a unique tease and launch campaign, called ‘Proud to Present’.

A 10” teaser was created and ran a few days prior to the launch.  The spots included a mysterious hashtag - #sleepingbear - and the call to action simply asked viewers to tune into Saturday’s X-Factor show where all would be revealed.  The teasers were seen by 17.5m adults (Source: BARB November 2013 and purposely carried ITV’s logo and not John Lewis’s to create a sense of intrigue around what we were preparing for the viewers of the biggest show on Saturday night TV.

We then premiered the Bear & Hare ad exclusively in the first break of the live show on Saturday 9 November, a first for X Factor!   We created a bespoke ‘Proud to Present’ introduction for the spot with authority and credibility.  The ad ran on its own as a solus break to provide an uncluttered environment seen by 8m adults (Source: BARB November 2013) for the UK’s most trusted retailer.  All of which helped separate John Lewis’s launch over and above the competition.


At a time when there were a large number of Christmas ads launching, Bear & Hare became a must watch live event.  The X Factor audiences cried… and then they took action… 

  • Viewers exposed to the teaser ads claimed that the ad drove them to watch X Factor. 700,000 extra viewers watched the first break of the X Factor on 9/11. We found that break retention during the break was significantly higher. (Source: BARB November 2013)
  • We found positive perceptions of the ‘Proud to Presents’ campaign launch break.  More than 80% of those that recalled the ad stated that it was better than a typical ad break. A quarter of those that recalled the ad stated it was the best ad break they had ever seen. (Source: BDRC Continental Research November 2013)
  • By using X Factor as a vehicle John Lewis were able to target a new audience and help change perception, and drive action. Positive impacts on perceptions of John Lewis were significantly higher among X Factor viewers who were non-John Lewis shoppers. When asked ‘To what extent does the following word describe John Lewis?’ non John Lewis shoppers exposed to the ad scored significantly higher than the unexposed non John Lewis shoppers: Innovation +15% points, Unique +18% points. (Source: BDRC Continental Research November 2013)
  • Proud to Present 4 out of 10 viewers of the Proud to Present break took some kind of action with John Lewis after seeing the ad (Source: BDRC Continental Research November 2013)


"The TV spot launch was the hero activity of the campaign. When Gogglebox, a TV show about what telly fanatics think of the country’s biggest TV programmes, demonstrated the power of TV advertising on ITV and featured telly fanatics in real time watching the John Lewis ‘Proud to Present’ break instead of featuring the X Factor show.  We were very proud to be represented!"

Chris Rigg, Key Account Director, ITV

“The results of the ‘Proud to Present’ partnership exceeded even our wildest imaginations and underscore the power of TV.  This was a true media first from ITV and has set the bar incredibly high for next year.” 

Rachel Swift, Head of Brand Marketing, John Lewis

“There is little doubt that this was the biggest and best launch of any of our Christmas campaigns to date.  From experience we know that the first time a person sees an ad is the most powerful and the ‘Proud to Present’ solution launched our very first spot in an unprecedented way and made Bear, Hare and John Lewis the talk of the nation.”

James Parnum, Business Director, Manning Gottlieb OMD 

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    viewers took action with John Lewis after seeing the ad

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