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November 18, 2020

John Lewis shows how an act of kindness can travel far

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The Innovation team at Instinctif harness the best of the future to deliver market-leading ideas in the present. The team’s specialism spans digital strategy and marketing, data & analytics, and strategic brand. With the world and news agenda fast-changing around us, now’s the time to get agile in how we think and work.

This newsletter brings you the best of the week in the ‘new normal’, straight from the desk of the Innovation team.

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There are certain cultural touch-points which have quietly slipped into our collective psyche as unofficially recognised ‘calendar moments’. Case in point: the annual unveiling of John Lewis’ Christmas advert. It’s become an event that marks the passage of time; that captures the national spirit, one that’s eagerly anticipated, consumed and picked over like turkey leftovers on 26 December.

In a year little like any other in living memory, the makers of the ad have admitted that they almost didn’t put out this year’s offering. But, convinced by the brand’s charity partners, they set about creating a pared-back contribution, which seeks to raise £4 million for food poverty charity FareShare, and Home-Start, which works with families needing support.

Featuring heart snowmen, hip hip pigeons and heart shapes galore, ‘Give a Little Love‘, released last week on World Kindness Day, shows how small acts of kindness can travel far. We see good deeds being paid forward, from improbably long crackers being pulled by neighbours at a distance to a stranger fixing a girl’s broken glasses. (The ad also shows some, quite frankly, unforgivable haircuts – but, in the name of charity, we’re prepared to look beyond those.)

Made up of nine vignettes in different creative formats, including live action and claymation, the content pays tribute to the creative industries which have been hit particularly hard by this year’s pandemic.

The soundtrack this year waves goodbye to the blockbuster hits of the past – no Elton John or The Smiths taking residence in our ears in 2020. Instead the commercial plays host to an original song by a more obscure artist, BRIT Rising Star Award winner Celeste. The song is due to be released as a charity single, with 10p from each purchase going to the campaign.

Charity credentials aside, the ad is not without its detractors. Naysayers were quick to note the absence of face masks, which in a COVID world seems, at best, careless, and, at worst, criminal. To these complainers, we’d reply: in this year, of all years, we deserve a little escapism.

And as the John Lewis commercial’s creators would (probably) say: Give a little love, guys.

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It might feel like time is at a standstill, but Christmas is fewer than 40 days away.

That means it’s prime time for brands to boost their sales performance after an unusual year (to put it mildly).

Twitter’s helpfully stepped in to share insights uncovering consumer trends and habits that could help brands over the next few weeks.

We hand over to Twitter for the big reveal:

“Frivolous is out, practical is in. All this time at home has given people a new appreciation for the simple things. Comfy clothes, a classic album, something for the kitchen — that’s the hot wish list.”

Peruse the latest insights here.

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This week the tip from the team comes from Visual Strategy Director, Matthew McGuinness:

As a brand, it is always important to connect with people on an emotional level, aiming for the heart (in tandem with the head). Emotive Brand, based in Oakland California, have showcased this through 50 feelings from over 300 emotions. Each emotion has an animation paired with a quote from various members of the team and influential thinkers – this really helps bring the emotion to life.

Explore them here and see what inspires you to look at things in a different light.

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