One of the world's most high-profile advertisers thanks to its award-winning campaigns, John Lewis increasingly seems to suffer from backlash to its success. The brand and its agency have previously been accused of plagiarism by several children's book authors who have claimed that the retailer borrowed ideas for its ads directly from its stories.
Such claims have not led to legal action, and in this case, it is not threatened; instead, according to The Guardian, The Portraits have asked that the company “make a donation to both of the charities and acknowledge our work.”
The John Lewis spokeswoman told Ad Age: "We've been doing a great deal to help those impacted by COVID. We already support numerous charities with our 'Give a Little Love' activity, which started last Christmas to help those impacted by COVID and has generated £8m so far. This has included donations to both local branches of Mind and to Cruse Bereavement care at national and local levels. Additionally we are helping NHS Charities Together through the sales of our rainbow bauble."
As the latest row comes on the tails of the insurance ad debacle, and at a time of major changes at the retailer, it will inevitably lead to further speculation about both its relationship with Adam&Eve/DDB and the future of its blockbuster ads. The retailer's representative said that Adam&Eve/DDB "continue to be our creative advertising agency."
John Lewis has seen a number of management changes including the departure of long-time marketing chief Craig Inglis. A new chair, Dame Sharon White, joined the retailer in 2020 and has instigated multiple changes, including axing the company's "Never Knowingly Undersold" pledge. John Lewis has closed around a third of its physical retail stores this year as it moves more retail online. The company is also currently reviewing its media account, held by Manning Gottlieb OMD.