As M&S marketing guru Steven Sharp is set to leave the retailer, Retail Week takes a look at some of his most memorable campaigns.
This is not just food, this is M&S food - Christmas 2006
Perhaps the most famous of Sharp’s campaigns, the long-running advert created a new genre in food advertising – food porn. With the close-up of the mouthwatering cuisine, the sultry voice-over by Dervla Dirwan, the enticing instrumental - most notably Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross - and the infamous tagline, “this is not just food, this is M&S food”, the ad will long live on in the public consciousness, despite being ditched in 2010. A sign of its brilliance is the amount of parodies it has stimulated, from comedians to retail rivals including Aldi and Ann Summers.
Twiggy et al, Autumn 2008
Signing up iconic sixties supermodel Twiggy in 2005 was a massive coup for Sharp. The beautiful 50-something was a great fit for its older target audience and became a staple for M&S fashion until last year. Twiggy was centerpiece in a glamorous line-up of stars including Erin O’Connor, Myleene Klass and Noemie Lenoir, which added their celebrity stardust to the retailer’s fashion offer and help boost sales.
Take That’s Winter Wonderland, Christmas 2008
Tying up with band-of-the-moment Take That in 2007 was another triumph for Sharp and helped promote its menswear offer. This Christmas ad takes viewers to a winter wonderland with the band and the retailer’s familiar female stars including Twiggy, Erin O’Connor and Lily Cole, at a snow-surrounded country pile. Shot in home-video camcorder style, the ad certainly got its viewers into the Christmas spirit with log fires, mince pies, charades and gift giving.
You Should Be Dancing, Christmas 2010
The retailer injected a bit of fun into its Christmas 2010 ad when it added comedian Peter Kay to its celebrity roster. Set to The Bee Gees “You Should Be Dancing”, the dance-themed ad showed Kay, Danni Minogue, Twiggy et al, busting some moves in a Christmas Party setting. The ad was certainly out-of-character from M&S’s usual glamorous but more po-faced offering but it certainly had the Christmas feel-good factor.
X Factor, Christmas 2011
M&S jumped on the X Factor bandwagon with their flop 2011 Christmas ad featuring the reality TV wannabes singing “When You Wish Upon A Star”. There was little reference to Christmas in the ad, part of a multi-million pound sponsorship deal, and limited product was on show leaving non X Factor fans feeling cold. The ad was also at the centre of fix allegations when certain starlets on the reality TV show were given more airtime than others.
Rosie and Ryan for Autograph, Autumn 2011
M&S went all Hollywood when it signed bona-fide movie superstars Ryan Reynolds and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as the new faces of its Autograph range in 2011. The smouldering ads may look beautiful but are completely at odds with its audience. A harassed mother-of-two may be put off trying on a dress that is hanging off a twenty-something supermodel.
For Every Woman You Are, Autumn 2012
M&S ditched its celeb-filled ads last autumn with a campaign using a diverse bunch of models in a bid to give the starring role back to its clothes. The models, which included an older lady with long white hair and a plus size woman, move catwalk-style towards the camera to Edwyn Collins’s” A Girl Like You”. The diversity makes the ad appeal to a wide target audience and the strapline ‘For every woman you are’ highlights its broad appeal.
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Video: Marks & Spencer's most memorable ads under departing marketing director Steven Sharp