John Lewis constitutionWe all know the lyrics to American Pie, especially once we’ve had a beer or two. Have I ever told you the story of American Pie, two Aspens and the only two Italian Chinese restaurants in the world? Maybe on another day….

Did you know “the day the music died” is 3rd February 1959. Why? It’s the day that Buddy Holly died and 50’s music moved towards the 60’s. At least so says this BBC source from when the original manuscript was sold by Don McLean for $1.2m last year.

So what date did the TV die?

For me it was just before Christmas, 22nd December, watching a documentary. It was about the build up to Xmas behind the scenes at John Lewis. I watched it on iPlayer to spot a few familiar faces. But the shock moment was realising they spent £7m on the biggest ad of the year and I’d never seen it. Neither on TV or online. I just don’t watch ads, because I so rarely watch live TV. So I don’t need to work through the ads. If I’m forced to, I don’t watch the programme.

Skip forwards to typical Xmas party chatter of why there’s nothing to watch on tele, even at Xmas. Well there’s just no money in it. Google ate TV spend for breakfast. What’s left of the TV ad spend is split a million ways. The BBC moved to Manchester (ouch ok, but I am a Mancunian so I can say that!) and the analytics for ‘test&learn’ on sales results just can’t compare with online optimisation.

But wait a moment, I did buy a bed from John Lewis shortly afterwards. So give a prize to the PR man who pulled off a BBC special without so much as a ‘how other stores do it’.

That’s the optimisation team getting their Googling spot on and their ability to  make a complex and expensive purchase easier than anyone else. As well as selling the right stuff. But before they pat themselves on the head too hard, not perfectly so, as already two contacts have been required due to the detailing being not quite “The Best Service Is No Service”. Let’s hope the delivery experience is better than when we tried to buy sofas off them.

But to the point of the story – please John  Lewis give your TV marketing budget to the poor customer service team and the optimisation analysts. Complaints came in for honest scrutiny with rates of contact and complaints rising according to the film. The cost of the Xmas ad should not be worn in public as a badge of honour, after all “Marketing is the tax you pay for being unremarkable”.

Or if you can’t bring yourselves to redistribute the money to the engine room, then please give £7m to sheltering the homeless for Christmas 2016.  After all the TV died….altogether now: …”and they were singing…bye, bye, Miss American Pie….”