John Lewis – Not Just For Christmas?

The only queue longer than that of the tearful people queuing to buy Christmas presents at the front of John Lewis stores this Christmas, will be the long queue at the back door of dry eyed charity directors with their caps in hand hoping to be the recipients of next year’s Christmas largess – and that’s a good thing! If we are to effect change we cannot do it on our own, and charity business partnerships that involve staff and the public can really move an agenda forward, especially in this age of that cruel hoax called austerity.

John Lewis has presented us with a great example of how corporate charity partnerships can work. Their spend on the advert was some £7m, but their spend on the whole campaign was £7m showing the amount of publicity that Age UK will receive is truly massive. In addition, the profit from the sale of various goods (mug, gift tag and card) and the aptitude of the John Lewis slogan “Show someone they are loved this Christmas” fits perfectly with Age UK’s “No one should have no one this Christmas”. The only question is whether Age UK has the available resources to really capitalise on such publicity. Let’s hope it is well prepared and willing to invest.

It is hard, and possibly heartless, to try and fault John Lewis for the way they have morphed caring for someone with giving them a present. Yet we all know that making the effort to buy a welcome gift is a far better sign of a relationship than a quick hug before the person is forgotten again in the rush to enjoy oneself somewhere else. Though it must not be forgotten that time spent with those we love and care for is time well spent. These days time is truly a luxury gift.

Hopefully, the trend for massive seasonal advertising will incorporate more and more charities. Hopefully too, it will not be all one way and charities will come to companies with great creative ideas. Many charities have great advertising agencies who might be only too pleased at the chance to put forward some creative suggestions to companies.

As we see government recede from social provision, with dire consequences spelt out in food banks and zero hours contracts, it is perhaps time for business to hold out its hand and join with charities; for the long haul, to see real change happen in society – not just for Christmas.