Marks & Spencer ‘Must Haves’ don’t include national TV advertising for new home and clothing campaign

It really is the start of a new era for retail advertising, as blockbuster TV ads take a back seat and digital targeting becomes the norm.

First Debenhams launched its “Do a bit of Debenhams” social media first campaign, and now Marks & Spencer’s “Must Haves” effort from Grey London is following a similar path.

A “TV” ad is part of the new campaign, but it won’t appear on national commercial channels. To allow for more precise local targeting, it will be shown only via video-on-demand services. There will be some digital out of home and national press.

Shoppable social media takes a front seat, as M&S works to boost its online traffic. Only 18.5 per cent of the retailer’s sales are online, compared to 33 per cent for John Lewis and a national average of 24 per cent, so M&S – which has just started a major store-closing programme and plans to rely more heavily on e-commerce – has got some catching up to do.

Nathan Ansell, clothing & home marketing director at M&S, says the word digital a lot: “M&S is using new ways of engaging with our customers and the digital focus with ‘Must Haves’… is executed across a highly targeted range of digital channels and excitingly is our most digital campaign to date.”

M&S has created a special “visual merchandising” team, which will be responsible for making sure the campaign is reflected in store. A smart move given that the in-store experience is one of customers’ biggest grumbles about the retailer.

Vicki Maguire, chief creative officer at Grey London says: “’Must Haves’ is a celebration of M&S’s stylish and accessible new collection. By focusing on these key autumn pieces, we’re putting product at the very heart of our conversations with customers.”

“Must Haves” is the first campaign from M&S following January’s restructure, which separated out clothing and home from the food business. The digital targeting logic is infallible, but the film is like a catalogue brought to life. Just because it’s a digital first campaign doesn’t mean creative standards should slip.

This kind of work is probably not what Grey envisaged when it won the business two years ago, and the agency showed, before the marketing restructure, that they can do much better work for M&S than this. Whether they’ll get a budget to create another Christmas hit like last year’s Paddington 2 epic, we’ll have to wait and see.

MAA creative scale: 4

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former London Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.
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