Social Media

John Lewis’ ‘Man on the Moon’ Campaign in Numbers & Learnings

November 9, 2015

Client John Lewis’ Christmas ads are more than just commercials. They’re 2-minute stories that tug at heart strings and get people talking. And in the UK they generate the kind of buzz normally reserved for blockbuster movies. This year is no exception.

Partnering with age-concern charity, Age UK, John Lewis’ ‘Man on the Moon’ ad seeks to raise awareness of the struggles faced by the elderly at Christmas time, by telling the story of a little girl who befriends a lonely-looking man on the moon.

But what do consumers think of the campaign?

We took a deep dive with our social listening tools to see if the reaction was more positive than John Lewis’ 2014 smash hit, ‘Monty the Penguin,’ and what marketer takeaways we could draw from the campaign.

A 24-hour snapshot of campaign success:

In the first 24-hours, ‘Man on the Moon’ fueled more conversations than ‘Monty the Penguin,’ garnering more than 108,000 mentions across social media compared to the predecessor’s 86,558.


Above: Volume of social media posts in first 24 hours of campaign launch (2014 – ‘Monty the Penguin’ vs. 2015 – ‘Man on the Moon’)

The campaign hashtag #ManOnTheMoon was used 55,000 times in the first 24 hours – 10,000 more than the 45,000 mentions #MontyThePenguin saw in 2014.

Above: Mentions of accounts and hashtags associated with John Lewis’ recent campaigns.

The official @JohnLewisRetail handle and associated accounts also garnered a higher number of mentions this year. Second to the retailer’s twitter handle, @age_uk received more than 2,1000 mentions – 400 more than @montythepenguin received in 2014.

Importantly for John Lewis, sentiment was also more positive. Our research showed that 54% of conversations for ‘Man on the Moon’ were favorable, compared to 47% for ‘Monty the Penguin’ in 2014.

Above: Sentiment analysis of social media posts in first 24 hours of campaign launch (2014 – ‘Monty the Penguin’ vs. 2015 – ‘Man on the Moon’)

As our tone analysis revealed, while a cute mascot led to 29% of comments showing love for ‘Monty the Penguin’ in 2014, ‘Man on the Moon’ provoked more respect or admiration for the brand (17%).

Above: Tone analysis of social media posts in first 24 hours of campaign launch (2014 – ‘Monty the Penguin’ vs. 2015 – ‘Man on the Moon’)

And many comments included praise for John Lewis for promoting a message that went beyond simple product promotion.

Above: Examples of consumer mentions on social media posts in first 24 hours of campaign launch (2014 – ‘Monty the Penguin’ and 2015 – ‘Man on the Moon’)

Marketing lessons from the ‘Man on the Moon’ Campaign:

So what do these numbers tell us? And what can we learn from the strategy behind the campaign?

1. Harness social media to engage targeted audiences
For the second year running, John Lewis launched its ad on YouTube before TV.

The brand built buzz for the launch with a week-long teaser campaign on Twitter leading up to the big reveal, and even produced a 10-second teaser spot to whet appetites.

While TV remains an important component of the brand’s overall campaign strategy, launching on social allowed the brand to reach a highly-targeted audience with its messaging first, and get more people caring and sharing in real-time.

2. Stop thinking in channel silos. Think in systems of digital communications
To make ‘Man on the Moon’ a fully immersive experience, John Lewis went beyond channel silos and created a mobile game and augmented reality app to accompany its social and TV efforts.

The app works by serving exclusive content to users when they point their phones at John Lewis posters, shopping bags and items in-store –driving footfall to the point of purchase.

In an ever-connected world, it’s vital for marketers to think about systems of communications, not just as messages on individual channels.

3. Use storytelling to build an emotional connection
Emotional storytelling is nothing new in advertising. But ‘Man on the Moon’ works because it does it really well – and all without any overt product promotion (although there’s no doubt a few more telescopes will be added to Christmas lists now this year).

The story keeps viewers guessing until the end, and reminds us of an age-old insight that Christmas is a time for coming together and sharing.

It’s a heart-wrenching message that speaks to all members of the family – mum, dad, and even the kids – and complements the brand’s partnership with Age UK perfectly.


John Lewis’ holiday campaign this year certainly didn’t disappoint. Through social listening similar to the above, marketers can gain valuable insights into how their campaigns are being received. And just as we did with ‘Man on the Moon’ this year, the data can be compared to previous benchmarks, and lessons on what worked can be drawn for future campaign success.

Cover photo via The Telegraph.