Paul Simons: triumphant John Lewis extravaganza has some home truths for all of us

The latest extravaganza from John Lewis/Waitrose courtesy of adam&eve/DDB I sense has a philosophical thread running through it for both the client and the agency. The line at the end “When you’re part of it, you put your heart in to it.” is a real truth about the agency world.

In the mid ’90’s I sent out an all staff note explaining we had shares available to buy for anyone interested. They were a buy back from a leaver and we had an internal market for shares. Our building manager Bill Whatley came to see me and asked if he would be allowed to buy shares. I explained they were open to anyone employed by Simons Palmer.

So Bill bought some, from memory about £5000 worth, and from the day he owned them his existing commitment to our place was elevated to the pride of an owner. As the pay off on the JL&P/Waitrose says “For us, it’s personal” was precisely how Bill saw things.

We did the deal with Omnicom a few years later and Bill’s investment was rewarded by a doubling of the share value.

In my opinion the Bohemian Rhapsody children’s version is a triumph, in a class of its own on a level above anything else we have seen in some time. As always with adam&eve they draw in parent and child to the John Lewis world of emotional engagement with their brand.

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About Paul Simons

Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.