GDR visits Buster’s Garden

Nov 28, 2016

Hailing the start of the festive season and warming 2016’s cold heart, UK retailer John Lewis gives us the gift of #BustertheBoxer this Christmas. 

John Lewis- once again working with creative agency adam&eveDDB- is responsible for past favourites such as Monty the Penguin and 2015’s tear-jerker The Man In The Moon. With this year’s offering already a big hit- shared 218,330 times in its first hour, according to social video specialist Unruly- GDR takes a look at how John Lewis’s 360 approach allows customers to experience the campaign through new touch points both in-store and online. Innovation researchers Harriet Cox and Lamorna Byford paid a visit to Buster’s Garden to find out more.

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All Buster wants for Christmas is a bounce on the family’s new trampoline. He watches from indoors as Dad builds it and then enviously looks on as various woodland creatures take their turn. When Christmas morning finally arrives Buster seizes his chance and beats the trampoline’s recipient – a young girl who for whom the gift is intended- to it. Joy, laughter and happiness ensue.

The concept is simple. No tears this year for the brand that does such a good job at tugging our heart strings, just the pure delight of seeing a dog bounce on a trampoline- the same feeling millions get from watching videos of household pets being silly on YouTube. But what sets John Lewis’s efforts apart is that the campaign extends beyond the traditional touch points and sees the brand experiment with VR, AR and social media.

On the day of the campaign launch Snapchat users could apply a filter to their pictures transforming themselves into Buster while foxes, badgers, squirrels and hedgehogs bounced across the screen. Twitter users could also download stickers so that they could customise their photos with images of Buster and the other wildlife.

A standout component of the campaign is the VR experience at the John Lewis flagship store in London, where customers can meet Buster’s fellow bouncers via an Oculus Rift headset. Created by MPC Creative, shoppers are transported to Buster’s trampoline where they are joined by the woodland animals featured in the ad, responding to the participant’s hand gestures by leaping and flipping.

After removing the headset customers are then given a ticket printed with a link that takes them to a video of their visit to Buster’s Garden, which they are encouraged to download or share on social media.

It’s safe to say we enjoyed our visit to the garden immensely. Lead up to the fourth floor by in-store displays, we found a charming set-up complete with box-hedging and a garden bench where we could try out an additional non-interactive VR experience whilst waiting our turn. A nice touch was that fox and badger heads housed the VR headsets.

Topping it off there is a range of Buster themed merchandise (including trampolines, naturally) with 10% of all sales going to UK based Wildlife Trust charities.

With social media playing a big part in the proceedings, John Lewis is currently outstripping the competition. According to Waggener Edstrom Communication’s brand agility index the Buster campaign has had 203,199 mentions across social media since 4 November beating its closest competitor M&S which comes in at second with 43,376 mentions.

With Christmas campaigns generating this much buzz, year-on-year retailer’s budgets continue to grow, with this years spend estimated to reach £5.6 billion. John Lewis is reported to have spent £1 million on the ad itself and a further £6 million on buying TV advertising slots.  The effort to win the battle of the ads seems to be paying off: while sales figures for the festive period are yet to be released the likes of Sainsbury’s is said to have recouped £24 profit for every £1 spent on its campaign in 2014.

This along with the news that Brits look forward to Christmas adverts more than the Queen’s Speech has firmly cemented their place in our hearts in the lead up to the holidays. According to The Advertising Association in the top 10 things Brits look forward to watching on television at Christmas, Christmas Adverts rank fourth behind watching The Snowman and Christmas specials of soap operas EastEnders and Coronation street, with the Queen’s Speech coming in sixth. Giving Brits the festive feeling, the inevitable slew of Christmas adverts that hit our screens from early November make us more merry than singing carols and mince pie munching (Advertising Association).

Every year GDR looks forward to seeing what all the contenders have to offer but #bustertheboxer has certainly captured our hearts and John Lewis gets our vote this Christmas. And if that’s not enough, the nation’s dogs are loving it too!

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