M&S deepens relationship with NMPi to drive ‘relevance’ in international markets

The value of the international brief hasn't been disclosed, but the appointment is a significant one for the struggling retailer

Marks & Spencer (M&S) is deepening its relationship with its paid search agency, NMPi, following "impressive" results, by appointing the digital shop to handle its social and display advertising in 34 international markets.

The move will see Mindshare moved off the international clothing and home social and display brief. However, the Group M business remains M&S’ media agency of record. At the time of writing the agency didn't respond to The Drum's request for further comment.

Working across the US, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Japan, NMPi will be tasked with increasing brand awareness in international territories. It will focus on expanding M&S’ e-commerce offering in these regions as well as growing footfall in the group’s 428 local stores.

The value of the international brief hasn't been disclosed, but the appointment is a significant one for the struggling retailer.

In 2018 M&S’ international arm pulled in £936.6.m worth of it’s £10.4bn revenues, a dip of 13.4% on the previous year which the group put down to store closures in loss-making markets. Excluding this, international revenues grew by 1.1%, with the British retailer (which is has dropped out of the FTSE 100 in the UK owing to sluggish clothing revenues) saying the international figures demonstrated positive potential for the wider company.

NMPi has already been working with M&S, having been brought on-board this summer to handle paid search (PPC) across its clothing and home business in the UK.

Plagued by supply chain issues that have seen clothing stock short and customers disappointed, M&S has been looking to better connect the dots between its digital marketing efforts and its merchandising. As part of a shakeup designed to alleviate the issue, it not only appointed NMPi, but also started the process of building its own SEO team to handle organic search.

Staying 'relevant'

M&S picked NMPi as because of its “unique approach” to the prioritisation of country selection and budget allocation. The advertiser said it was also impressed by NMPi’s level of on-the-ground support in key markets from the senior team, as well as its expertise to integrate media, technology and creative within digital advertising.

Amy-Claire Short, International digital marketing manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “When operating at an international level, we need to make sure that we remain relevant in the different markets, which involves telling customers within local markets about Marks & Spencers long-standing heritage and values, along with highlighting the quality and style of our clothing and home products.

“We’ve already been incredibly impressed by NMPi’s work in the UK so are excited to be working with them on a global level to raise the awareness of the brand.”

M&S has made some big changes to its agency roster over the past 12 months. In March, it appointed indie shop ODD as the lead creative agency for its clothing and home division, months after it revealed plans to splinter its advertising between food and non-food accounts.

The appointment dealt a blow to Grey London, which has held all M&S creative since 2016. The WPP agency still holds M&S food account, however.

ODD’s first Christmas ad for the retailer marked a departure from its previous celeb-heavy efforts, putting woolly jumpers front and centre instead.

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

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