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Sep 25, 2018

For us it's personal

by Mary Anne FitzGerald - Client Services Director

For us it's personal

Many moons ago I went with a colleague for a meeting at John Lewis HQ. The receptionist greeted us brightly and asked if we were partners. My colleague replied sharply with the response “That’s rather personal! We’re just here to meet the head of PR for Waitrose”.

The man in question had had a rubbish morning at a photoshoot of free range hens. “The trouble is”, he said, “hens are herd creatures. They have whole fields to scratch around in but love being together. Of course, the photographer only took close ups of the hens feeding cheek by jowl and not long shots of the masses of space they have to graze in. We’re the first retailer to insist on free range eggs, and this is the flak we have deal with. But that’s my job, it’s a personal thing."

So moving on to 2018 and I’m thrilled to see that the partnership and being personal is front and centre of the new group communications. The relaunch of its two brands as John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners comes with a new identity and its first ever joint marketing campaign.

The new design scheme uses the same elements across both brands, with subtle differences: while John Lewis now uses mostly black, Waitrose continues to use green. These have been developed with the growing importance of digital and especially mobile channels in mind. Digital channels have already switched over, and the new visuals will also start to appear quickly on carrier bags, uniforms, store magazines, point of sale displays and new product ranges. John Lewis Oxford Street has already had its makeover as have the stores in Westfield White City and Milton Keynes along with two London branches of Waitrose.

By the end of the year, around 15 Waitrose stores will have been fully converted but it will take up to five years before the entire store and vehicle estate carries the new branding.

According to Waitrose MD Rob Collins, the change means much more than just a new name and some new signage.

“It symbolises something bigger, expressing what’s different about our business and signalling our intent to make that difference count for even more: committed, knowledgeable partners who care about the business they own, sharing their love of food and offering great customer service.”

The epic, engaging and extraordinary 150 second ad takes on the challenge of putting across the value and importance of the partners as the group’s secret weapon. Not an easy task especially as most people are unlikely to care unless the service they receive is demonstrably better than the competition.

Hence the publication of a ‘manifesto’ appearing in print ads, in store and online. It reads: "When you’re part of it, you put your heart into it. At Waitrose and John Lewis, we’re more than employees. We’re partners. Which means we all have a share in the business and we all have a shared commitment: to go above and beyond for every customer, providing quality products and outstanding service. That’s why we’re adding partners to our name. Because for us, it’s personal."


JLP is committed to investing in both businesses to the tune of £400m to £500m pa to enable them to differentiate themselves from other retailers by innovating in services, products and customer service. Which is good news.

They also need to keep on improving and developing the range(s) on offer.  Waitrose shoppers may care about the supermarket’s ethics around sourcing, supplier relationships, and support for farmers in the UK and abroad – as well as its environmental credentials. But actual business ownership? Not so much perhaps.

However, add to all this great customer service and new and improved product ranges, perhaps created in the brand new 7,000 sq ft development kitchen at Bracknell HQ, surely they will be on to a recipe for success.

So bring on the Christmas range, in store from October, not to mention the Christmas commercial. One ad or two this time?!

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Marketing, Branding, Retail, Partnerships, Packaging

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