A couple of weeks ago, John Lewis* started running a tv commercial starring a snowman buying a Christmas present for his snow wife of a hat, scarf and gloves. It’s simple, heartfelt and beautifully created (by Adam&EveDDB for those interested).

UK journalist India Knight claims that by espousing simple virtues and values, John Lewis is making a clever anti-branding statement, designed to attract those near a John Lewis store to pop in, buy their Christmas presents and feel virtuous at the same time. This, says Knight, is deluded because John Lewis is another big chain store keen to grab your money just like every other chain store.

I feel she’s missing the point.

This advert comes at a time when most TV advertising in the UK is either focusing purely on function or low price. Everyone (including the manic Christmas shopper) has a sense of value that isn’t only rational. We all have an emotional view on the kind of business we spend our time with/in. Value is emotional just as much as it is rational and this is where John Lewis has got walloping amounts of value-in-trade. People know that John Lewis is a co-operative and that their employees are also ‘partners’ in the business – they treat their employees well and remain ‘never knowingly undersold’ for the benefit of the customer which translate clearly into a good experience for the shopper.

I personally love John Lewis and I actively choose to shop there for many items where I have a clear choice, simply because the emotional value for me (belief, trust, reassurance, pleasant staff, social values) is higher than the rational value (internet deals/price).

Bring on the snowman. My handkerchief and my wallet are at the ready.

* a UK based, employee-owned high street retailer and major brand

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