As a brand, John Lewis is highly based on values. The unique employee ownership structure; emphasis on long-term quality customer service; and brand communications that reflect how we behave towards each other rather than our own personal wants gives John Lewis a special place in British society.
As a brand, John Lewis is highly based on values. The unique employee ownership structure; emphasis on long term quality customer service; and brand communications that reflect how we behave towards each other rather than our own personal wants gives John Lewis a special place in British society.
Equally, in the last decade or so, the firm has thoroughly modernised itself, reinvigorated its confidence, and matched its ethical positioning with a consistent and credible commercial performance.
All of this gives John Lewis the authority to be a highly credible and respected sponsor, and it needs only to reflect on which deals most appropriately reflect its proposition and positioning.
At their best, general retailers become part of the fabric of society, and thoughtful sponsorship reinforces this. The winners from the London Olympics were those who aligned themselves best with the spirit of the games, including John Lewis, an official partner, and Sainsbury’s which sponsored the Paralympics and demonstrated a clear affinity between the brand and the mood of the nation.
Organisations can further differentiate themselves by discerning sponsorship. LMVH’s backing of the new £200m lecture theatre, along with a scholarship programme, at Central Saint Martins is a case in point: the prestige of the institution, the aesthetics of the new King’s Cross campus and the commitment to ground breaking design is a perfect complement to LMVH’s exclusive positioning but in a way that shows its commitment to investing in society.
Specifically, by sponsoring the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, John Lewis elegantly covers a number of bases. To a large extent the London Olympics surprised us all by showing that we were perhaps less cynical as a nation that we thought we were: this will give sponsors comfort that there is a high chance that the nation will embrace the Commonwealth Games this summer.
Although John Lewis is a national brand and has had a presence in Scotland for many decades it does at times suffer from being perceived more narrowly as a South of England, comfortably middle-class brand: at a time when Scotland is reflecting on its future relationship with the rest of the UK, sponsorship of the Games simultaneously reflects both a national outlook while showing presence and commitment north of the Border.
The sponsorship of an event, particularly a sports event, also has the benefit of capturing a unique moment in time: many stories were told of where people were or what they were feeling when some of the highlights of the London Olympics happened. To gain association with the power of the emotions that such events engender has much value for the right sponsor.
As a Glaswegian and a Scot, I have every best wish for the success of the Commonwealth Games; and as an admirer and customer of John Lewis, this feels like a highly appropriate association.
- Neil Duffy is managing director of Interbrand Londonn
John Lewis sponsors Commonwealth Games after London Olympics success
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Comment: Why John Lewis' Commonwealth Games sponsorship is a golden opportunity