The decision by John Lewis to support the forthcoming Commonwealth Games is a canny piece of marketing know-how.

The decision by John Lewis to support the forthcoming Commonwealth Games is a canny piece of marketing know-how.

The Commonwealth Games are about to kick off in Glasgow. And in case you didn’t know, the ‘Games’ are between a number of countries that were once part of Great Britain’s former empire (as well as the former imperial power itself) and Glasgow is a city in Scotland. Sorry for the tone, but it would be quite easy to overlook the Commonwealth Games, not Glasgow. This is because it’s one of the few occasions on which Great Britain, while and if it remains an entity, is in with a sporting chance of winning multiple gongs – largely owing to the size of its population relative to most other parts of the Commonwealth.

The question therefore is why has John Lewis decided that a “pop-up urban garden” in support of the Games is a good idea? And the answer is simple. If you happen to find yourself in Scotland’s commercial capital at the moment, the Games are a big deal, with an equally big tent filling most of the central George Square boasting a sign that says “Superstore” and which is about selling Games-related merchandise.

Yet the fact of the matter is that unless you are tuned in to the sporting zeitgeist, you may not have heard a great deal about what’s happening. If you happen to be in situ however, then they’re something worth shouting about and John Lewis is aware of this as one of the sponsors of what is a multi-site and city event. Scotland is a big place with a small population and most of its people are crammed into four cities. Making an impact across the whole of the country is therefore relatively straightforward and enables the canny to punch considerably above their weight.

For John Lewis, it’s a case of backing something that is about a location and which will help it to foster its case as a cornerstone of retail in the country.

This is smart marketing. There are only three John Lewis stores in Scotland and while these are well up to scratch when compared with their southern counterparts, they act far more as destinations than those south of the border, owing to their scarcity. What this means is that, just as in Westfield Stratford in 2012, when John Lewis supported the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games are about supporting something that means a lot to those who are there. In-store and out of it, John Lewis in Scotland has its finger on the department store marketing pulse.