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The Montymania generated by the John Lewis Christmas advert presents an early gift for WWF UK

The Montymania generated by the John Lewis Christmas advert presents an early gift for WWF UK

Author: John Thompson, director and consultant at Changing Business

The Montymania surrounding John Lewis’ decision to cast Monty, an adorable but lonely CGI penguin, in its advert this year has presented an early gift for WWF UK, the world’s leading independent conservation organisation.


For starters, the charity, that also benefits from the support of brands such as Coca-Cola and Whiskas®, has its penguin adoption programme showcased on the retailer’s Christmas landing page. Additionally, it will also receive 89p from each purchase of Tom Odell’s rendition of Real Love, the advert’s theme song.

#MontyThePenguiin's charity friends on the John Lewis website

#MontyThePenguin’s charity friends on the John Lewis website Christmas campaign page



John Lewis Real Love 89p to WWFWhilst the relationship seems more opportunistic than strategic (would John Lewis be supporting WWF if it hadn’t played the penguin card?), WWF’s leveraging the relationship via social media and currently has its Adopt a Penguin programme dominating its homepage. It’s also directly tweeting celebrities and TV presenters, such as Jamie Theakston, suggesting they adopt a penguin for their children this Christmas.

Commenting on the tie-up, Kerry Blackstock, director of public fundraising, said:

“Raising awareness of our wildlife adoptions is vital for our work and we are delighted to have the opportunity to join forces with such a high profile organisation like John Lewis, as this is such a special time of year. We hope this partnership will result in even more adoptions being chosen as Christmas gifts this year and enable us to protect even more iconic species for future generations.”

Not long after the advert broke, however, Twitter was all in a flap about John Lewis charging £95 for a stuffed toy version of Monty with tweeters suggesting that people would be better off adopting a real penguin from WWF. This indicates that awareness of the ‘partnership’ between WWF and John Lewis is currently low and could benefit from more cross-promoting. For example, John Lewis could add a reference to WWF in the closing frames of its £7m advert, that has already gained over 7m views on YouTube. It could also explore a ‘percentage of sales’ donation generated by purchases of the plethora of penguin merchandise linked to its campaign, that are flying off its shelves. Or what about providing adoption pack info in all of its stores across the UK? And surely a #WalkLikeAPenguin selfie, in aid of WWF, wouldn’t be too much to ask for this Christmas?

Mabel, oops, maybe it’s not too late for that? I don’t think so and I also expect, hope, to start seeing some tweets from Monty himself encouraging his 20k+ followers to adopt a penguin. Ditto John Lewis and its 178k followers. Income and good will could also be maximised if the charity, John Lewis and Tom Odell started directly promoting the 89p donation generated per purchase of “Real Love“.



Rebecca Kinge with over 1000 WWF Adélie penguin adoption toys. Photo: Gretel Ensignia/PA Wire

Rebecca Kinge with over 1000 WWF Adélie penguin adoption toys which have arrived to meet high demand since it was announced that John Lewis, whose Christmas advert features Monty the Penguin, is supporting the charity’s Adopt a Penguin programme. Photo: Gretel Ensignia/PA Wire

To conclude, it’s a great tactical venture with huge potential to be developed further. Still, even as it stands, the partnership will help create many really lovely relationships for all involved. In fact, as Monty’s so popular, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back on our screens next year with a whole brood of mini-Montys and Mabels that we’ll globally warm to, as I gather Adélie Penguins are never knowingly overcold.


Main photo: Gretel Ensignia/PA Wire

John Thompson is a fundraising consultant with particular expertise in cause-marketing, sponsorship, strategy development, partnership marketing and executive recruitment. A blogger on UK Fundraising since 2006 with a background in corporate fundraising and public relations.

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