The Christmas season officially got underway last week in the UK. That’s when John Lewis, the chain of upscale department stores operating throughout Great Britain, published “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2014 #MontyThePenguin.”

Over here in the US, the Christmas season doesn’t kick off until the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it appears that the story of a little boy, Sam, and his best friend, Monty the Penguin, has found love on both sides of the pond. As of this morning, the new John Lewis Christmas TV advert had 10,608,348 “views” on YouTube just four days after being published on Nov. 6. 2014. And, according to the Viral Video Chart powered by Unruly, “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2014 – #MontyThePenguin” had 362,068 shares. Here is the little fellow in action – get your hankies ready:

Monty the Penguin Goes Wild on Facebook – and YouTube

But there’s an interesting subplot that online video marketers will want to watch very closely. John Lewis has also posted an untitled version of their video to the company’s Facebook page. Their post says, “Here it is, our 2014 Christmas ad. Say hello to #MontyThePenguin.” As of this morning, it had 5,795,687 “views” on Facebook just four days after being posted on Nov. 6, 2014. And, according to Facebook, it had 151,164 shares.

Now, for the past four years, John Lewis has published their Christmas ads just to YouTube. So, this is new news! It could be start of a trendy trend!

monty the penguin facebook upload (2)

Facebook vs YouTube: Who Loves Monty the Penguin More?

Business Insider claims that “Facebook is stealing a huge chunk of YouTube’s audience” regarding the ad. What is my so-called “expert advice, guidance, and commentary” about that?

Well, I agree with her when she says, “It looks as if Facebook video has given the UK department store an extra helping hand.” But, I disagree with her when she says, “Stats show Facebook has stolen 40% of the online audience for the video, which would previously have belonged entirely to YouTube.”

So, before I analyze the analysis and comment on the commentary, let’s make sure that we both have all of our facts straight first.

As of this morning, last year’s ad, “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2013 – The Bear & The Hare,” had 13,660,624 “views” on YouTube. And according to the Viral Video Chart powered by Unruly, it had 1,176,990 shares.

The previous year’s ad, “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2012 – The Journey,” had 4,991,066 “views” on YouTube. And it had 436,884 shares.

The ad before that, “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2011,” had 6,724,660 “views” on YouTube. And it had 507,852 shares.

And the first ad in the series, “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2010,” had 1,459,647 “views” on YouTube. And it had 20,009 shares

So, if we just compare “views” on YouTube to “views” on YouTube, “Monty the Penguin” swam past three of its four predecessors over the weekend and is a day or two away from swimming past “The Bear and the Hare.” So, the debut of a Facebook version this year doesn’t seem to have slowed the viewing of the YouTube version of “Monty the Penguin” down to a waddle, does it?

However, the Viral Video Chart reported that “John Lewis Christmas Advert 2014 – #MontyThePenguin” had only 362,068 shares as of this morning. That puts it in third place, ahead of only the first advert from 2010. In other words, “Monty the Penguin” isn’t being shared at nearly the same rate as three of the four previous adverts from John Lewis. So, posting one version on Facebook as well as publishing another version on YouTube doesn’t appear to have helped the aquatic, flightless bird to “go viral.”

Monty the Penguin: Going Viral Because of Advertising

What is the hidden accelerator of views, but not shares? In a word: Advertising. 

John Lewis can buy “views.” But it can’t buy “shares.” Now, neither O’Reily nor I know what the company’s ad budget is or how it’s being split between YouTube and Facebook. It’s what former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called, “The Unknown Known.” Although I’m not a fan of Rumsfeld, he was right to admonish journalists that they should know what they don’t know.

So, what’s my so-called “expert advice, guidance, and commentary” about this? With such a low share rate, it appears that “Monty the Penguin” either has a bigger ad budget behind it this year, or it hasn’t triggered the intense psychological responses that “The Bear and The Hare” did last year – at least among viewers.

However, “Monty the Penguin” has triggered intense emotions among some ink-stained wretches who don’t seem to let all of the facts get in the way of a good story. I totally understand that stealing a huge chunk of YouTube’s audience would be a good story — if Facebook had done that. But, there are still a couple of known unknowns to look into before we can jump to that conclusion.