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What do promotional items have in common with the John Lewis Christmas Advertising campaign?

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What do promotional items have in common with the John Lewis Christmas Advertising campaign?

In 2010, when many retailers were shutting up shops and batting down the hatches, one high street retailer bucked the trend.  The John Lewis Christmas advertising campaign, which featured a child growing to a teenager and then through various stages of adult life from an advertising perspective was “on the money”. The advert, was accompanied by the powerful Billy Joel ballad “always a woman to me” and it resulted in an 18 % uplift in sales in one of the worse Christmas trading periods in recent memory. The power of John Lewis advert was that it did not focus on the features and benefits of the products it sold, but rather it delivered an enormous emotional connection with the audience, by focusing purely on family.    The success of any form of advertising is always based on the ability to embed its message in the long-term memory of the viewer.  This ad campaign stuck and so powerful was it, John Lewis continue to use the same formula year after year.

As human beings, we are exposed to up to 10,000 marketing messages on any given day.  Remarkable as that seems, our short-term memory trashes nearly all these messages in a nano-second, and we don’t even notice them.  Why?  Because simply speaking, the majority of messages are boring and lack any form of emotional selling proposition, so we simply don't notice them.    So what’s the connection with John Lewis advertisement and promotional items?

Well, in essence, they do the same job.   In advertising, you have to be disruptive, use humour, be emotive or tell a great story to embed in the viewers long-memory, whereas promotional items use another tactic………repetition. 

Strategically placed promotional items in effect can be viewed as placing a brand advert in front of a customer every single day.   For instance, if you give promotional branded mugs away, there is a potential for your brand to be in plain view of your prospects every single day.   That could equate to a huge number of brand impressions per month, embedding what could be a simple brand message into the long term memory of your customers.  

The latest research suggests that 43% of people keep a promotional item longer than one year, with this in mind, that’s a big opportunity to embed your brand without the huge costs of advertising.  If you are going to be using promotional items as part of your marketing spend, the main questions to ask are

Is the product useful? How often will the recipient use them? How long with the recipient likely keep them? What is the potential cost per brand impression?

The answers to these questions will formulate the most effective product to use, ensuring your brand is embedded in customers memory and giving you a great return on investment for your promotional items.

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