Why the John Lewis campaign won the big UK ad effectiveness prize

The John Lewis campaign by Adam & Eve and media agency Manning Gottleib OMD took the top prize at the UK’s IPA Effectiveness Awards ceremony held last night at the London Hilton Hotel, Park Lane. The awards are claimed to be the most rigorous in the world aimed at showcasing and rewarding campaigns that demonstrate their marketing payback.

John Lewis was awarded the Grand Prix for its highly emotive and much talked-about advertising which began during Christmas 2009 and has continued ever since. The campaign tugged the nation’s hearts by reminding people what makes John Lewis special and the emotional role it plays at milestone occasions in their lives, such as moving house, getting married and having babies, while remaining a constant beacon of stability.

This resulted in £1,074m of incremental sales and £261m in profits over a two-year period. As well as a ten per increase in customers and a six per cent growth in annual spend as new shoppers visited and existing customers visited more.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of supplier brands, in particular premium ones, as more have sought to be distributed through John Lewis stores. Examples include Loewe, who returned to the stores after a five year absence and fashion brands such as Ralph Lauren, Whistles, Prada and Valentino. This has resulted in supplier funding more than doubling since 2009.

Not only has the John Lewis business benefited greatly but it has had a significant impact on all their employees who share an annual bonus based on profits. Agency Adam & Eve hasn’t done badly out of it either, being bought for a maximum £55m by Omnicom’s DDB in May to form the new Adam&Eve/DDB in London.

Awards chairman Lord Hollick, former CEO of United News and Media says: “This campaign combined wonderfully emotive creativity with evident effectiveness to return the brand back to national treasure status. It demonstrates the power of acknowledging and rallying other audiences behind the brand, including employees and stakeholders, to really shift consumer behaviour and perceptions.”

In total 14 gold awards, 10 silver awards, 11 bronze awards and eight Special Prizes were awarded in this year’s competition:

Special Prizes went to:

Grand Prix, sponsored by Thinkbox: John Lewis by Adam & Eve and Manning Gottlieb OMD
Effectiveness Company of the Year, sponsored by Thinkbox: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Best Channel Planning, sponsored by Microsoft Advertising: Digital UK by DLKW Lowe, Digital UK, BBC Switchover Help Scheme and MediaCom
Best International, sponsored by Velti: Snickers by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Best Demonstration of Consumer Participation, sponsored by Facebook: Metropolitan Police by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Best Use of Insight, sponsored by Future Foundation: Cadbury Dairy Milk by Ogilvy & Mather India
Best Dedication to Effectiveness, sponsored by Warc: Waitrose by Bartle Bogle Hegarty
Best New Learning, sponsored by Clear Channel: Metropolitan Police by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

The Gold winners were:
Aldi by McCann Manchester
British Gas by CHI & Partners
Cadbury Dairy Milk by Ogilvy & Mather India
DFT by Leo Burnett
Digital UK by DLKW Lowe, Digital UK, BBC Switchover Help Scheme and MediaCom
Dove by Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai
Health Promotion Board Singapore by Ogilvy & Mather Singapore
John Lewis by Adam & Eve and Manning Gottleib OMD
McDonald’s by Leo Burnett
Metropolitan Police by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Snickers by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Virgin Atlantic by RKCR/Y&R, Gyro, OMD International, Hall & Partners
Walkers by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Which? by Mike Colling & Co

The winning campaigns and creative work are on the IPA’s website.

The IPA will also be publishing Advertising Works 21 in January 2013. This latest book in the series will contain full versions of the 24 case studies that won Gold and Silver Awards and summaries of the 11 Bronze Award winners from the 2012 IPA Effectiveness Awards, in addition to insight and analysis from experts across the advertising industry. Advertising Works 21 costs £125 plus VAT and is available to purchase from the IPA website.

Previous Grand Prix winners include:

2011 Program of Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilised, Lowe-SSP3
2010 Hovis, MCBD
2009 Morrisons, Mediaedge:cia
2008 Johnnie Walker, Bartle Bogle Hegarty
2007 Trident, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy MediaCom
2006 Marks & Spencer, RKCR/Y&R
2005 Bakers Complete Dry Food, Burkitt DDB
2005 Travelocity.co.uk, Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy
2004 O², VCCP
2002 Barnado’s, Bartle Bogle Hegarty
2000 Tesco Stores, Lowe Lintas
1998 HEA Drugs Education, Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters
1996 BT, Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO
1994 BMW, WCRS
1992 Milkman, BMP DDB Needham
1990 PG Tips, BMP DDB
1988 Winalot Prime, Ogilvy & Mather
1986 TSB School Leavers, J Walter Thompson
1984 ICI Dulux, Foote Cone & Belding
1982 John Smith’s Bitter, Boase Massimi Pollitt
1980 Krona Margarine, Davidson Pearce

This list includes some rather fine agencies who are no longer with us, most notably BMP and Davidson Pearce which were both absorbed (ultimately) into DDB, just like Adam & Eve.

Davidson Pearce, the first winner for Unilever’s Krona, was best-known for its work for PG Tips featuring a troupe of performing chimps (you’d never be allowed to these days). This one is probably the best of the lot.

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