John Lewis v Lidl – Getting Into The Christmas Spirit


The John Lewis Christmas advert has become part of the festive furniture. So it’s perhaps not surprising to see another High Street brand rather cheekily cashing in…

Within hours of John Lewis releasing this year’s ad, featuring Elton John at his piano, Lidl the increasingly popular discount supermarket had pounced on a PR opportunity and taken to Twitter.

“Just because you don’t have £872 to spend on a piano, doesn’t mean you can’t be the next Elton. #EltonJohnLewis”

John Lewis made light of it by tweeting a link to a toy piano on sale for less than £20: “It’s a Lidl bit cheaper”

Unfortunately, the term reactive PR is all too often associated with the negative – from scathing customer reviews to pesky journalists breaking a story you’d rather have kept in the shadows. Sometimes you just have to spring into action and ‘deal with it’.

But have you ever thought of using reactive PR in a positive way? Are you constantly on the lookout for the chance to jump on a PR break? If the answer’s no, you’re missing a trick.

As experts, we believe there are some key points to consider if you’ve spotted a golden opportunity:

  1. Think fast
  2. The power of social media
  3. Ensure the message is aligned with your branding and company tone

The ability to think fast is critical. Alongside your long term strategy you need to have a keen eye for potential. Lidl’s PR and marketing strategy focuses on themed weeks, from ‘alpine week’ to ‘wine tasting week’ they know exactly what’s coming and when.

Conveniently, the John Lewis advert was launched during ‘musical instruments week’. Here lies an opportunity.

As you’ll know, this advert is always eagerly anticipated. Various hashtags trend on social media as the nation voices their feelings of approval or disappointment.

Lidl’s witty tweet is a fantastic example of a business reacting to an event in order to increase conversation around their brand:

  • The jibe at John Lewis’ prices will almost certainly have increased interest around the tweet – after all, the nation loves a good Twitter spat.
  • By shamelessly plugging a keyboard currently being sold in Lidl stores, you’d imagine sales of them will increase.
  • By including a trending hashtag the reach of the tweet will have been maximised.

To ensure continuity, the tweet uses Lidl’s current branding and is written in a conversational tone – a voice the consumer will recognise.  It’s important that the approach is playful, otherwise the whole ploy would feel snide and uncharitable.

This example demonstrates how reactive PR doesn’t always have to be fire-fighting or chasing your tail. If you spot potential, take full advantage.

If you think your business would benefit from some PR or marketing support please get in touch. 

Lidl v John Lewis