M&S’s critical Christmas clothing campaign forgoes celeb-power in favour of woolly jumpers

M&S has revealed its Christmas ad for 2019, the first from its new agency ODD and a marked departure from previous celeb-heavy efforts.

Last year, Holly Willoughby fronted Marks & Spencer’s festive marketing efforts. The year before that, it harnessed the star-power of Paddington Bear. And in 2017, British actress Janet McTeer graced screens as the retailer’s very own Mrs Claus. But this year, arguably its most critical yet, M&S has opted to put the woolly jumper front and centre.

Sales for M&S’s clothing division have trailed food for several quarters. In its half-year update this week (6 November), it revealed that while food grew 0.9%, clothing and home plummeted 5.5%.

Attempts to turn it around have been in the works. In the lead up to Christmas – under the guidance of new creative agency ODD – it has been investing more in adverts that hero a single product or range. Its denim campaign from earlier this year, for example, resulted in better than expected sales, according to the division’s marketing boss Nathan Ansell.

It’s a framework it didn’t want to drop for Christmas. “The thinking process was quite simple really. First and foremost the product had to be the hero,” continued Ansell. “We're crystal clear on the strategy which style and value delivered in a distinctive way. It really was as simple as that."

In response, it dropped the glitzy celebrity ties and shunned the emotional storytelling of Christmases past, opting instead to put its powerhouse category of knitwear (it will sell in excess of six million jumpers over the season) at the heart of the festive marketing sprint.

The advert is set to the House of Pain track ‘Jump Around’ and shows a range of people dancing around in a variety of jumpers within the 60-second pot.

It was shot by Jake Nava who directed Beyoncé’s Single Ladies video.

M&S declined to reveal how much it’s spent on this year’s campaign but said that media spend it being made to work harder. It will roll out on TV but the retailer is investing more on VOD, digital, and out-of-home.

“We’ve got more content than ever before,” said Ansell, saying it will be relying on both its in-house team as well as social influencers and by customers who will be encouraged to share the campaign using the hashtag #gojumpers.

After experiments last year, Instagram continues to play an important part in its campaign. It now has over 1.3 million followers and said that revenue it derives from the platform is up 200%.

M&S Food revealed its Christmas campaign yesterday (7 November), which marketing director Sharry Crammond said had taken inspiration from a successful video series it ran on Instagram and Facebook.

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