CAMPAIGN: John Lewis – Monty the Penguin (2014)

John Lewis’ 2014 advert was widely acclaimed beyond just its efficacy as a Christmas advert, winning the Creative Effectiveness Grand Prix at Cannes. The campaign featured ‘Monty’ the penguin and demonstrated a number or key marketing techniques, including integrating television, digital and in-store promotion, as well as influencer engagement.

However, one of the most impressive achievements of the campaign was the commodification of its content, with Monty becoming a hugely desirable Christmas icon. This practise is well established in other industries; bands sell t-shirts with their logos, films sell posters, brands like Harley Davidson, Guinness and Jack Daniels sell everything from umbrellas to slippers, and every time these are used, they’re advertising the brand.

This is significantly less common with department stores, however in 2014 John Lewis achieved it, creating a campaign with a wealth of desirable commodified content. The retailer sold 25,000 copies of the hardback book, 48,000 soft toys and the Monty app hit the top spot on the iTunes kid’s chart. Overall John Lewis sold £2.5m worth of merchandise from the campaign.

This kind of brand merchandising is self-perpetuating marketing, where the profits from merchandise can greatly offset marketing spend, or even become a revenue stream in their own right.

How can this be applied to B2B business?

The concept that your brand or campaign can feature a desirable icon can be applied to B2B. Perhaps the most obvious is at external events such as exhibitions. Many B2B exhibitors will purchase high volumes of pens, keyrings, notebooks and USBs, or sometimes even higher value power banks or VR headsets. Nice as these things may be, the ROI is difficult to measure and it’s easy to get into a rut of producing the same items in bulk, without considering the value to the audience.

Think about creating something truly unique to your business - something genuinely desirable and exclusive. Providing higher quality giveaways as on-stand competition prizes or incentives for on-stand activity may deliver higher perceived value to visitors, as well as serving tangible return on investment. Quality over quantity every time!

Try giving out tickets or scratch cards with a chance to win a giveaway. The same way that Disney think about toys when making a film, ensure your campaigns have an icon that can be commodified into desirable, valuable promotional products.

To support this strategy, look to John Lewis’ social and influencer engagement. Prior to the official launch, the retailer delivered Monty penguins to key journalists, and secured 11,336 mentions in the media. When exhibiting, support your competitions with social media to reach a wider audience. Consider creating a simple, sharable hashtag or building an incentivised digital activity that aligns with your on-stand activity.

Getting to a situation where your customers will compete to win an object representing your overarching campaign is possible, but for this to work it has to be truly valuable, exclusive and most of all – relevant.

 To find out how OrangeDoor can help you deliver more engaging campaigns for your exhibitions call us on +44 (0)20 8289 6216 or email