John Lewis to experiment with Snapchat Lenses in Christmas campaign

John Lewis' rumoured #BounceBounce campaign

John Lewis is understood to be weaving Snapchat into its Christmas marketing campaign as it looks to inject another layer of emotion into the annual tear-fest.

The Drum understands the mobile messaging app will play a key role in the retailer's festive push, that may see it use the Lense format for the first time to allow people to overlay scenes from the campaign, including dogs, on to their own pictures. These branded filters are also thought to be accompanied by some musical element, although the details remain unclear.

John Lewis and Snapchat both declined to comment.

If John Lewis is mulling Snapchat as a key element of what will be the most important campaign of its calendar, it speaks volumes to the work that the social network has done this year to prove to advertisers how effective it can be.

As The Drum reported recently, it has only been in the last 12 months that more established brands have been shifting ad spend (albeit relatively small amounts) to the platform. That’s been in part as a result of Snapchat’s efforts to show that it has a user base beyond the often-touted millennials, with 43% of its adult users in the UK are parents – a key target for retailers like John Lewis.

Among the major draws for brands that have ventured on to the platform is the sense of intimacy that Snapchat can bring. As Sony Pictures' international digital marketing vice-president Aaron Wahle recently told The Drum: “The way that they [Snapchat] present it, you know, the personal nature of your own phone is just something that’s intimate.”

Over the years, John Lewis’ Christmas TV ads have earned a global reputation for its ability to tug on people's heartstrings. It has, of course, tried to take it off screen. For example, in 2014 it released a limited-edition penguin stuffed toy for fans of the ‘Monty the Penguin’ spot.

With Snapchat, however, the retailer could bring that personal touch to a much wider audience.

“Snapchat is an obvious move for John Lewis this year having experimented with Twitter to great success in the past,” said Alex Whittaker head of strategy at digital agency Possible, who added that the team at retailer and its agency partners need to be ready for what opening itself up on a platform like Snapchat entails.

“If they’re going to be successful on the platform they need to stick to what the platform is good at – playful interfaces which people actually want to use and let the branding take a back seat. The best John Lewis ads have been ones which have taken on a life of their own online so they should also be planning for how the lenses will be used and be ready to react to change as the campaign rolls out.”

It could also extend people's interest in the ad, which was beginning to lag from last year's spot. According to YouGov, Man on the Moon got off to one of the strongest starts when it came to audience engagement but as the weeks wore on it "ran out of steam" faster than John Lewis ads that had gone before it.

Snapchat, meanwhile, has long talked up its ability to amplify TV activity to its 150 million strong user base.

For now, people are waiting patiently for tomorrow (10 November) when the advert will finally be unveiled. Rumours are mounting that a mysterious clip on Twitter has all the hallmarks of a John Lewis ad, fueling suspicion that a dog will be at the heart of this year’s work.

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Jennifer Faull

Jen Faull is Brands Editor at The Drum. Based in London, she has interviewed major business figures including top marketers from Mondelez, Unilever, Tesco, and Lidl.

All by Jennifer