Marks & Spencer is hoping to reinforce its emotional connection with consumers with a Christmas campaign that aims to reflect the lengths people go to to make Christmas special by telling the story of Mrs Claus.
The first TV ad debuts tonight (11 November) on Channel 4 in the first ad break of Gogglebox, as well as online on YouTube, the M&S website and in emails to the five million members of the Sparks loyalty programme.
The main ad, created by RKCR/Y&R in their last spot for the brand and Mindshare, tells the story of Jake, who has spent the past year squabbling with his sister. As Christmas approaches he decides he wants to get her something special so he writes to Mrs Claus. Unlike her husband Santa, she brings gifts for people who want to give something special to someone else and brings Jake’s sister a pair of red, glittery trainers.
We heard the customer say ‘celebrate the moment with us, make it resonate more’.
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, M&S
Alongside the TV spot there will be social activity, with Mrs Claus taking over M&S’s social media accounts and the #lovemrsclaus hashtag acting as the connector across activity. M&S has had an emoji specially designed for the hashtag, while there will be an “army” of Mrs Claus’s in stores giving out random acts of kindness to 15,000 customers in the run-up to Christmas and donating £5 to charity for every act.
Speaking at a press event today to reveal the ad, executive director of customer, marketing and M&S.com Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne said the aim of the campaign is to “reinforce” the retailer’s emotional connection with customers and show its brand is “warm, special and helpful”. That comes after he admitted last year’s campaign, which focused on Christmas moments, was a “bit detached”.
He told Marketing Week: “Emotion has always been part of the M&S brand from stores to our expression. We are dialling it up this year. We heard the customer say ‘celebrate the moment with us, make it resonate more’.
“We know this is a very commercial season and while we will be trading and we have a campaign that will deliver the product categories, it was time to reinforce that emotional bond we have with customers. We are the most trusted brand in the nation and we want to make sure that is reinforced at this very special moment of Christmas.”
Listening to customers has been integral to the campaign this year, as well as on wider work M&S is doing to define its brand purpose. That, said Bousquet-Chavanne, comes down to an ambition to “make every moment special” and ensure there is symmetry between in-store and online, hence his new role managing marketing, customers and M&S.com.
He said M&S is “working very hard” to find out what customers want from M&S, speaking to 15,000 customers a week and getting data from Sparks users.
“We have put the customer experience very much at the heart of everything we are going to do,” said Bousquet-Chavanne. “This is not just a traditional advertising campaign, it’s a customer experience campaign created with the help of our customers for our customers.”
Creating fame, driving sales
The tale of Mrs Claus is aimed at driving fame for the brand and while sales will obviously be important, M&S will also be tracking brand metrics such as social sentiment, how the campaign makes people feel and if its brand momentum score is up.
Alongside the main activity there will also be a “product layer” of advertising that is mobile-led in line with people’s personal calendars and that aligns with Google searches. In food there will be five main spots, all with the line ‘’Tis the season for’ and then showcasing aspects such as ‘giving’ and ‘being naughty’.
The M&S food website has been updated in line with customer feedback, so for example there are more lines available and more time slots for pick-up. That site has already been tested with Sparks members, with Bousquet-Chavanne claiming pre-orders are already up by double-digits compared to last year.
In clothing and home key commercial categories such as occasion wear, sleepwear, knitwear, gifting and decorations will be promoted.
“This will be our most mobile Christmas ever,” he said. “We will run an always-on campaign with mobile behind it. We will have a stronger presence than ever before; you won’t be able to miss it.”