Leo Burnett’s new strategy for the Co-op is a straight steal from John Lewis – but the Co-op got there first

We shouldn’t make too much of a Christmas ad but, when it’s a new agency producing a new line, then it does mean rather more.

Earlier this year the Co-operative Society, a hangover from the 19th century when people up north banded together to provide services (a good thing), switched from TBWA Manchester (its heartland) to Leo Burnett in London.

And its first ad makes the promise ‘here for you for life,’ which is remarkably similar to the John Lewis offer memorably promoted by Adam&Eve/DDB, winner of this week’s UK IPA Effectiveness Award.

All these caring, sharing retailers; they’ll be refusing to take our money next.

But the Co-op actually got there first and more convincingly in the cradle-to-grave stakes. Literally as it’s the UK’s biggest provider of funeral services. As well as selling food (‘Guid with fudd’ as it used to say via a Scottish voiceover) it’s also a major force in banking and about to be a bigger one as it’s just bought 600 or so bank branches from Lloyds.

John Lewis (itself a partnership rather than a conventional business) might be forgiven for thinking a little polite larceny had occurred though.

Burnett itself is clearly on a roll, rising to the upper echelons of the UK top 20 and producing some outstanding work, for McDonald’s among others. Here’s it’s latest ad for the UK’s free digital TV service Freeview.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.