M&S hails “radical” new campaign from Grey – but same old reality problems remain

In what it’s hailing as a “radical” new departure Marks & Spencer is launching a new campaign, ‘Spend It Well’ through new agency Grey which won the business in a closed WPP pitch from long-time incumbent Y&R.

The strategy, or so my friend who knows about these things tells me, is fine: life’s too short to settle for second best so come here instead. There’s also a passing reference to food which suggests that M&S is trying to sprinkle some of its food fame onto more troubled clothing. And, doubtless, save money.

But what about the execution?

This is where the problems start. It looks like stock, “aspirational” footage: the brief write large. Lots of debut campaigns do this, of course, as part of the job is to reassure the client he/she is on the right lines and they wrote the brief. But it doesn’t engage you.

And M&S is still trying to attract younger, fashion-conscious folk. Zara or Asos customers. I see M&S customers as I walk through their Oxford Street store to cut through to Soho. And you don’t see any of these in the clothing part, they’re all flooding through to the food and lunchtime offering downstairs.

Tesco’s advertising has picked up with BBH after the stickiest of starts as the people in it look like Tesco customers and you grow to quite like them. Why can’t M&S put people in its ads who could be customers? Like Y&R’s valedictory Mrs Claus?

Is it because M&S is fashion (partly) and fashion has to be (so fashion companies think) aspirational with beuatiful young people? OK, some of these are older but they don’t seem real. It could do with a human being or three and, with the exception of Mrs Claus, it hasn’t had one since Twiggy in the Stuart Rose era.

Maybe it needs a stroke of creative genius for M&S to bridge that gap between reality and what it would like to be.

This isn’t it, alas.

MAA creative scale: 5.

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