M&S Summer ’24: Not just an ad, but is it an M&S ad?

So, according to its latest results Marks & Sparks is back from the brink and its turnaround plan is working harder than the election teams of the main political parties. And, as Sky News was keen to point out, from recording 60 million sales of knickers over its last financial year to further growth in food market share, things appear on the up.

And, here comes the sun, too, with M&S calling on Brits to keep their cool with the launch of its 2024 summer campaign which aims to continue the retailer’s attempt to broaden its appeal and elevate style perceptions. (Well, that’s what it says here…)

But there’s more: “The theme for the season is sun, sea, and a stylish wardrobe, playfully brought to life in a colourful campaign that serves up style inspiration across womenswear, menswear, and kids wear.” Sounds harmless enough.

In reality, the campaign, led by a TV spot, is set against a series of sunny holiday scenes with featuring consumers wearing pieces from M&S’ summer collection comprising summer co-ords, sequins skirts and embellished dresses for pool-to-evening glam, linen tailoring and swimwear in eye-catching fabrics, colourways, and silhouettes.

Set to Technotronic’s Pump up the Jam, those starring in the ad are seen pumping up giant inflatables “without breaking a sweat”; the ad ends with the line “this summer, keep your cool”.

Developed by Mother, the film has been directed by Tanu Muino, best known for creating music videos for Harry Styles, Lil Nas X, Cardi B, Sam Smith and, most recently, Dua Lipa.

M&S marketing director of clothing and home Anna Braithwaite is certainly chuffed with the end result. She said: “Summer is a time when our customers are prioritising socialising and making the most of the warmer weather and the lighter evenings. It’s also a time when we want to have a bit of fun with our wardrobe.

“We want effortless style, versatile pieces for day-to-night dressing and pops of colour to reflect the mood of the season. So, this year we’ve bottled up everything we know our customers love about summer and added a dash of poolside glamour to create a vibrant and infectious campaign serving up style inspiration that will be impossible to miss.”

Launched earlier this month, the TV ad has been all over screens this week, as well as on VOD, radio, print, and OOH. There is also a takeover at Oxford Circus Underground station), backed by digital display (including homepage takeovers), paid and organic social (including influencer activity), PR, ecom, CRM and instore, with window takeovers. Basically, if you haven’t seen it, where have you been?

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, we all know M&S is trying to attract a new audience, and it seems to be having some success in doing so, but this campaign just feels to have gone way too far.  The film smacks of a music video, which to be fair is what Tanu Muino specialises in. But will core M&S shoppers really want to be treated like Love Islanders? Probably not.

As the retailer strives for an image makeover, it must be careful not to alienate the shoppers who have remained loyal to the brand despite years of shit. Just saying.

Decision Marketing Adometer: A ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’ 7 out of 10

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