The Bear & The Hare (and The Multi-channel Christmas Campaign)

The yearly tradition of John Lewis pulling at our heartstrings is upon us again, with its family-friendly Christmas ad featuring the relaunch of Lily Allen’s career, alongside the cuddly duo of The Bear & The Hare.

The animated ad, drawn by artists who worked on The Lion King, debuted online before airing on television, proving how important online and social media is for big brands. Even better is the interactive eBook, narrated by Lauren Laverne, adding another facet to the campaign and branded content for all the family. Add to this cuddly toys, an online Christmas card maker, and in-store photo opportunities and you have a multi-channel communications campaign using different personal media. In the words of Craig Inglis, John Lewis’s marketing director, the aim is to “connect emotionally with our customers”.

But the speed with which the ad spread online is a double-edged sword. It was quickly pointed out that The Bear & The Hare shared an awful lot of similarities with a children’s book by Karma Wilson called ‘Bear Stays Up For Christmas’, in which, you guessed it, a bear stays up to enjoy Christmas with his friends – including a hare.

Huffington Post UK reported on the similarities, and was told by a John Lewis spokesman: “They’re not related. Stories about animals at Christmas are nothing new.” The news website also reported that the spokesperson said the key difference was that the present in the ad was to wake the bear up, whereas in the book the present is to help bear get back to sleep.

Brands launching big, multi-channel campaigns not only need to come up with amazing ideas to connect with people emotionally and deliver the idea across channels. They also need to be on the ball under scrutiny, with answers ready for the media and social communities, when the success of the campaign drives deeper analysis. With a budget of millions, we’re sure a massive amount of careful thinking and long term planning went into the launch of The Bear & The Hare, which is essential for any standout campaign.

We’re not entirely sure of the response about animals at Christmas being a common theme but with nearly 8 million YouTube views and blanket national media coverage, one thing’s for certain, everyone has John Lewis front of mind this Christmas.