The end of an era: adam&eveDDB walks away from iconic John Lewis

The UK’s most famous ad account John Lewis Partnership is looking for a new agency after adam&eveDDB, which has handled the business since 2009, declined to repitch in a new process run by Oystercatchers. John Lewis ads have defined Christmas for many over the period, leading to big budget battles among retailers. John Lewis’ Waitrose, handled by A&E since 2015, is also up for review.

14 years is a long time, of course, but the client decision to review is still a shock. But both John Lewis and Waitrose face mountainous challenges in their respective markets as online sellers and discounters take chunks out of their business.

A&E CEO Tammy Einav says: “To say we are immensely proud doesn’t begin to capture the feelings we have towards what we have achieved together over the years.

“We are therefore saddened that the team at John Lewis Partnership have decided to call a pitch. Whilst we appreciate being invited, we have made the extremely difficult decision not to repitch.

“We shall always be grateful for the opportunity to create work that has been so loved. We will continue to support the team throughout this process and wish them all the very best for the next chapter.”

John Lewis customer director Charlotte Lock says: “Adam & Eve/DDB’s expertise and dedication to our two brands has played a prominent role in the popularity of many of our campaigns and communicating what we value to our customers, but like all businesses it’s important we review our supplier relationships, including those we have with our key agency partners.”

There’s no guarantee that the new team at John Lewis and Waitrose (former M&S marketer Nathan Ansell is now customer director at Waitrose) will stick with the big TV emphasis of yore anyway: John Lewis advertising has been large confined to Christmas with a burst for a subsidiary product in the summer.

A&E may have wearied of always trying to outdo the stellar efforts of the past (although it would never admit it) and is now free to pursue bigger-spending retail and supermarket brands.

But the ads were certainly something, no less than an advert for British creativity.

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