failing to avoid the new John Lewis TV advert... and what it means for comms

It's hard to avoid the new John Lewis TV advert. In fact, you are far more likely to see it not by watching TV at all. Pick up a newspaper, magazine or go online and you'll come across it.

by Dan Slee

Well, I wasn't going to. And I didn't seek it out but the new John Lewis TV ad gives a perfect lesson for where comms is right now.

You may know it. It's a two minute film of a little girl spotting the man on the moon looking sad and sending him a present to cheer him up at Christmas time. An old Oasis b-side has been re-recorded for the music. 

Not watching much television I wasn't aware of it. But of course, I remember the penguin TV ad from last year. But I didn't have to watch TV to find out about the new TV ad. It was being discussed on BBC Radio 5 on the way home and all over Twitter.

But the thing is you don't have to wait until the ad break of Coronation Street to see it. It's on John Lewis' Facebook (4.3 million views in 24-hours), John Lewis' YouTube (6.1 million views in 24-hours) as well as the 743 entries on Google News . Twitter, as this Topsy 30-day search shows went wild.

Of course, there was also whole sub-genre of stories like the one about Oasis fans being angry at the song being re-recorded and the one about the Twitter user called John Lewis whose worst time of year has just started. Apparently, a bloke in America @johnlewis gets flooded with tweets and patiently tries to reply to them all.

But what does this mean for communications?

Video has never been more powerful. The two minute TV-ad moves the toughest cynic to tears. A little girl has reached out and melted the heart of a lonely old man. If you don't cry tears watching it there's genuinely something wrong with you.

But that power doesn't have to be on TV anymore. It's notable that the TV-ad was launched on YouTube first rather than on the television. That's quite post-modern.

Social media fanning the flames is the vehicle for getting it seen. All the buzz, all the sharing and all the think pieces is driving the traffic relentlessly. Why pay for expensive TV slots when people can watch it in their Facebook stream? There were 81,000 shares in 24-hours.

It was uploaded to Facebook direct AND YouTube. There's an epic battle going on for the future of the web between Google and Mark Zuckerberg. As tech improves and allows people to have phones that can stream video content like John Lewis' ad can reach people. 

Traditional media still plays a role. It may be online as well as in print but the news media retain a footprint in where and how we are consuming content.

Dan Slee is Director and co-creator of comms2point0. He co-delivers an Essential Video Skills for Comms workshop in London on November 26. More here.