M&S reveals Holly Willoughby Christmas campaign: ‘We’re focusing on product, not the blockbuster creative’

Holly Willoughby has been put front and centre of Marks and Spencer (M&S) Christmas campaign after the retailer brought her in as a brand ambassador three months ago and saw sales spike as a result.

The ads will start airing next week and in a departure from the “blockbuster” creative of years past, this campaign has focused on the 'Must-Have' products of the year.

“It’s much more fun, modern, and energetic,” said newly appointed marketing director for the retailer’s non-food division, Nathan Ansell.

“What’s happened historically is that focus has been put on the epic, blockbuster, hero ad. Paddington worked really well for us last year and drove emotion and we still want to be entertaining, but we need to get people shopping with us as well.”

Set to ‘Give a Little Love’ by Tom Jones, the ad – created by ad agency Grey London – begins with Willoughby asking, “What makes Christmas, Christmas?” before wriggling under a Christmas tree to plug in her M&S lights.

The ad then presents a range of moments that make Christmas, from 'Must-Have Bridget' where a group of friends are singing to 'All by myself' in the M&S jumpers, to 'Must-Have in laws impress' where model David Gandy is washing up in an M&S waistcoat and marigolds.

It’s hoping the star-power of Willoughby will also attract younger people to the brand, saying “style perceptions” are changing for the better as a result of her coming on as a brand ambassador earlier this year.

Ansell revealed that in the first few hours of her revealing her ‘Must Haves’ from the collection, it saw one million visits to the website and at the peak was selling a product ever second from the campaign.

Ansell said the campaign is designed to be “mobile first” and it’s created a record-volume of content that will run on digital platforms.

M&S revealed its Christmas campaign for its Food division – also by Grey London – which has used real-life customers for the first time. See the ad below.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.