Marks & Spencer has appointed Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R to its &£26m advertising account.
The troubled retailer, which has suffered three years of declining sales and plunging profits, appointed Rainey last week after a pitch against BMP DDB, which for some years had handled much of the business through its BMP 4 division. Bartle Bogle Hegarty, which last year produced M&S’ Christmas food campaign, and Ogilvy & Mather were knocked out earlier this year.
Rainey has little experience of working for large retail clients, although this may stand it in good stead as it will be able to bring a fresh approach to the chain’s problems. It has worked on the Thornton’s account for six years.
The agency’s task will be to pull together the different marketing messages M&S has had over the years and “make a &£26m spend look like &£26m”, according to one insider.
The chain spent &£20m last year and is understood to be increasing that by &£6m. The campaign is expected to break this summer, and to include TV branding work.
Supermarkets spend similar sums on ads and their straplines, such as Tesco’s “Every little helps” and Sainsbury’s now defunct “Everybody’s favourite ingredient”, are well known to the public.
One source says: “M&S’ problem is that it has spent a lot on ads but the work has been disparate – there has been no cumulative affect. These ads will be big and very noticeable.”
The pitch brief was based on a rebranding project by Interbrand Newell & Sorrell to modernise the in-store look, introduce a new fascia to M&S’ 297 stores and put the M&S name on all own-label products.
The appointment in January of former Woolworths marketing chief Alan McWalter as marketing director signalled a new approach to branding. This was based on the acceptance that projecting a unified brand image would be essential to the chain’s recovery. Marketing is being centralised, with different sections relinquishing their responsibilities to McWalter.
He says the relationship with Rainey “will be fundamental in helping to build the M&S brand for the future”.
Although M&S still receives a large number of visitors to its stores, shoppers’ spend per head continues to be low. “It needs to be less habitual. It’s about creating a greater demand for M&S products,” says the source.
The chain offers products with technical benefits, such as anti-bacterial clothing and school uniforms that contain teflon to make them last longer. “It has got phenomenal products, but people have to be reminded about them,” says the source.
Rainey’s task will be similar to classic packaged goods marketing: to give consumers a good reason to shop at M&S rather than at its rivals.