M&S shifts spotlight to value in biggest festive food campaign to date

The campaign is a deviation from the usual food-centric adverts we are used to seeing from Marks & Spencer, with social media playing an increasingly important role as it looks to attract a younger audience and combat falling sales.

Marks & Spencer’s food business has invested 40% more in media this Christmas compared with last year, marking its biggest festive food campaign to date and a change of tact for the retailer as it puts more of a focus on value and price.

The series of unscripted ads, which feature people from all over the UK talking about their favourite M&S Christmas products, have been created to showcase both the value and quality of its food in an “authentic” way as food sales continue to slide.

This includes the brutally honest view of a child who doesn’t like the Christmas pudding because it’s “too round”.

“We’re not just talking about the range, we’re talking about the incredible value year-on-year too, which people might not have expected,” Sharry Cramond, director of marketing for food, tells Marketing Week.

“We’re much more confident talking about the prices this year because we’ve invested to make sure customers get even better value but the same great quality.”

What’s really important is that the campaign lives in-store. Because that’s how a lot of people experience your brand.

Sharry Cramond, Marks & Spencer

The campaign comprises 12 different adverts in a mix of long and short edits to ensure viewers are regularly introduced to new M&S food favourites. The series includes three 60-second ads and nine 30-second ads, the latter of which will focus on a different product each week in the run-up to Christmas.

It is a deviation from the usual food-centric adverts we are used to seeing and there is a clear focus on a much younger, family-orientated audience. But M&S brought back food director Charlie Stebbings – the man responsible for making the nation salivate – to make sure the food is “brought to life” in the same way and that M&S is “absolutely owning food porn”.

To generate buzz and engagement on social media, M&S is also encouraging the nation to join the conversation and share their Christmas food favourites using the hashtag #MyMarksFave, which comes with its very own festive Percy Pig emoji.

Central to this is M&S’s new monthly ‘What’s New At M&S?’ series starring Paddy McGuinness, Amanda Holden, Emma Willis and Rochelle Humes (Keith Lemon will also be making a cameo appearance this Christmas).

READ MORE: M&S ditches blockbuster ads for Holly Willoughby in digital-first Christmas campaign

Since launching exclusively on Instagram TV in September, Cramond says it has reached more than nine million people – 80% of which do not follow M&S on any other social channel – while the products the celebrities pick as their favourites have resulted in a sales lift of up to 300%.

While it has only been commissioned for 12 months, Cramond says it is likely that it will run for much longer as the retailer looks to attract a much younger audience.

As well as TV and online, the campaign will also run across print, radio and in-store, with windows showcasing products featured in the TV ads. Stores will also display managers’ #MyMarksFave and all colleagues will share their favourite products on name badges. Point of sale across the store will highlight favourites from the TV ad, celebrity favourites and award-winning products.

“What’s really important, because we’re a retailer, is that the campaign lives in-store. Because that’s how a lot of people experience your brand,” Cramond says.

“People trust people like themselves and it really builds on that word of mouth. People love talking about M&S food and sharing what their favourites are so we’re just tapping into something that’s already happening.”

Media buying will be based on customer mindset and shopping behaviour.

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