‘Diversity of Leading Ladies is pillar of its success’, says M&S

The diversity of the Leading Ladies campaign is one of the ‘pillars’ of its success and represents the ‘very wide church’ of people that M&S caters to, according to marketing boss Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne.

M and S Leading Ladies
M&S claims diversity is one of the pillars of its Leading Ladies campaign.

Speaking to Marketing Week at an event in London today (1 May), he said M&S has had a “tremendous reaction” to the diversity of the cast, with this campaign exceeding expectations. There has been some criticism of the wide range of celebrities used in the campaign.

“M&S caters to a very wide church – over 30 million people across food and general merchandise – there is not one single person that can represent the diversity of what we stand for and we are very proud of that. Only M&S can bring to you this diversity with so much engagement and power behind the brand,” he said.

He added that sales this time were an improvement on the launch campaign which aired in the autumn and when M&S would typically expect to see higher sales.

In total, M&S sold 412,000 items from the Leading Ladies ads over the course of the campaign, a “step ahead” of where it was last season. Some of the best-selling items came from lines that singer Rita Ora was wearing, which Bousquet-Chavanne admitted was “unexpected” given the core M&S audience.

M&S is hoping the Leading Ladies push can help boost sales at its general merchandise business, particularly womenswear, which have been in decline for a number of years. There are signs the heavy investment in marketing is beginning to pay off, with sales of GM up 0.6 per cent and the retailer claiming that sales growth in womenswear outpaced general clothing increases last quarter.

M&S is now hoping to make more of the content it generates through the campaign with plans to use video, interviews and pictures from Leading Ladies in its push to promote its new website.

In the initial Leading Ladies push, which launched on 31 March, Bousquet-Chavanne said it generated 148 million digital ad impressions.

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