Christmas cheers for Marks and Spencer, as its seasonal campaign rules the media

This year’s Marks and Spencer’s Christmas campaign is not only dominating TV ad breaks, it is also taking over retail news. According to research commissioned by PRmoment, which compared M&S online media coverage with Argos, Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis in the last month, there were more M&S articles than for all of the other stores put together.

 Research supplied by Echo Sonar

Much of this concerned Christmas, with over one third of M&S news having a festive element. To offer a perspective on how much M&S Christmas coverage there is, last month there were almost 1,200 M&S articles with a seasonal theme whereas there were 99 for House of Fraser.

M&S‘s £10-million ad campaign includes Twiggy, Stephen Fry, Philip Glenister, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders. As Sally Elms, creative director at ethical marketing consultancy Pollinate, puts it: “It isn't any old celebrity-endorsed ad, it's an M&S celebrity endorsed ad!”

Clark Turner, editor of marketing portal, says that M&S’s strapline that 'Christmas Wouldn't Be Christmas Without' is spot on. He adds: “Like it or not, the M&S Christmas campaign has become a highly anticipated event in the marketing calendar with its inevitable mix of top models and celebrities.

Research supplied by Echo Sonar

“This year it’s not hedging its chances. With no less than seven participating celebrities it must be hoping that, like that other Christmas staple, Quality Street, everyone is someone’s favourite. And just in case that fails, Noemie Lenoir is skipping about in her underwear. Again. Who says sex doesn’t sell? Yes, even for M&S.”

Talking of sex, the campaign did lead to some negative stories after there were complaints about the M&S ad being sexist. For example, at on 18 November: “The advertising watchdog has received eight complaints of sexism relating to RKCR/Y&R's Christmas TV spot for Marks and Spencer. The ad, which features a host of celebrities, finishes with Life on Mars actor Philip Glenister claiming that Christmas would not be the same without ‘that girl prancing around in her underwear’. It then cuts to a shot of scantily-clad model Noemie Lenoir posing in Marks and Spencer lingerie.”

As well as news about its Christmas marketing campaign, Marks and Spencer created a stir earlier this month, when it announced that it would be carrying other famous brands in its store. As a story on TimesOnline explained on 4 November: “Marks and Spencer confirmed today it is selling big brands for the first time in a bid to close the sales gap with Waitrose, its upmarket rival, as profits beat analysts' forecasts for the first six months of the year. M&S is introducing 400 brands across its stores, and is already selling the products alongside its own-name goods in 60 sites. It is the first time since the 1950s that the retailer with 600 UK stores has sold non-M&S branded products.”


PRmoment asked Echo Sonar to analyse all UK online media coverage of Christmas-related news for Mark and Spencer, John Lewis, House of Fraser, Argos and Debenhams. The research period was from 15 October to 15 November 2009. Metrics included trend chart, share of voice and Christmas influence.


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