Reaching younger audiences by combining TV & the metaverse

August 15, 2022

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General information

Sector: Retail

Media: Linear TV, BVOD, Fortnite, Twitch, Influencers, OOH

Time period: November – December 2021

Case description

In the UK, Christmas begins as soon as the John Lewis ad launches! There is big pressure for the brand to create renewed enthusiasm around its campaign each year. In 2021, the brand decided to innovate their strategy for the campaign, based upon the realisation that while ‘traditional’ audiences (and the ad industry) are waiting excitedly for John Lewis’ campaign, the launch needed a larger echo among younger audiences. Agency MG, therefore, invited ITV into the campaign launch, with the challenge of reaching audiences in an exciting and unexpected way with a focus on live TV and Gaming. The campaign was called “unexpected guest” and featured an alien girl becoming friends with a young boy on earth.

The campaign used the theme of the alien and spaceship in a modern virtual reality and metaverse integration. It attracted people’s attention by showing virtual integrations of spaceships crashing into ITV sets and shows. All that built towards a synchronised 4D ‘meta-moment’ combining metaverse gaming in Fortnite, a primetime product placement, and a unique real-life London stunt.

John Lewis worked with ITV Creative to produce a teaser for the campaign inviting viewers to tune in the next day and showing the spaceship’s bright tail as it streaked across the skies above the Emmerdale village, ITV offices and through The Chase and This Morning’s studios.

The John Lewis spaceship then ‘landed’ when ITV premiered the full ad in the centre break during their annual award ceremony – Pride of Britain on 4th Nov. Their VOD platform – ITV Hub – became the exclusive home for additional content, celebrating the partnership with the extended version, and a ‘making of…’ behind-the-scenes film.

On the 7th December, ITV then delivered a second spike with a 3-part synchronised ‘meta moment’. John Lewis was brought into ‘I’m A Celebrity’ (ITV’s most-watched entertainment programme) by building a bespoke woodland winter scene, with the spaceship protruding from the ground for a legendary in-programme Castle Coin Challenge.

And finally (also at precisely the same moment) an immersive 4D creative of the spaceship crash-landing near the I’m A Celebrity castle played in the physical world, on Outernet London’s new Ultra HD screen on Tottenham Court Road. Designed by Epic Games, it was the first public use of this breathtaking new attraction.

This was the first time a mainstream British band had played in the metaverse to this extent. Creating this campaign was a real team effort with collaboration between Creative, Production, Partnerships, and Commercial teams. ITV business Metavision also handled the implementation of the campaign into the metaverse.

Contextual spots in supporting ad breaks had shown the spaceship plummeting towards castle grounds. At precisely the same moment, the spaceship crash site was also revealed in the ‘I’m A Celebrity’ Welsh castle map built in Fortnite Creative. Gamers explored the spaceship in the 3D environment, designed by ITV-owned specialists Metavision. Gamers could complete trials and branded minigames in return for coins to exchange at a virtual John Lewis Castle Shop. Gaming influencers, such as Ali A, promoted it to their followers on TikTok, Instagram, Twitch and YouTube. The Fortnite map was further promoted on ITV.

Campaign results

The campaign was one of the most innovative in recent memory, combining touchpoints across the ITV family to create a truly remarkable meta-moment and driving awareness of the John Lewis Christmas campaign across all ages.

The results of the campaign’s extension into the metaverse were also impressive, showcasing the success of metaverse activation for a brand looking to reach younger audiences. This campaign won Silver for Media Idea – Launch and Bronze for Media Idea – £250k to £1 million at the Media Week Awards.

  • Of those watching the content on the ITV Hub, 60% watched both the ad and ‘The making of…’
  • There were 87k map plays in Fortnite with a 16min play time (8900% more engagement than usual).
  • 7 in 10 said Fortnite ‘told them something new about John Lewis’, ‘made them want to find out more’, and ‘made them more likely to shop there’.
  • Of those playing, 80% agreed ‘it’s a modern brand’, which was 5% higher than the unexposed group. 79% said ‘the brand is changing for the better’.
  • John Lewis product featured in the show for eight minutes, valued at £1.8m vs an investment of £80k.
  • Our influencers generated 325k views on YouTube, 101k on Twitch, 92k on TikTok and 165k on Instagram.

Campaign video