Hollywood glamour suits M&S

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Ryan Reynolds and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are the new faces of Marks & Spencer’s Autograph fashion range. At first I was taken aback, but on reflection the Hollywood A-listers suit the direction Marc Bolland wants to take the retailer’s brands.

When Marc Bolland pledged to turn Marks & Spencer’s fashion labels into bona fide fashion brands earlier this year, I don’t think anyone expected the A-list glamour of Ryan Reynolds and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

But the campaign images don’t make M&S look like a try-hard, or out of its depth – they are slick, convincing shots that wouldn’t be out of place in the pages of Vogue.

In having the former Mr Scarlett Johansson and the Burberry and Victoria’s Secret model and star of Transformers: Dark of the Moon fronting Autograph, M&S has pulled of a transformational coup.

Marketing director Steve Sharp isn’t wrong when he says it’s a “very different” campaign for M&S. For a start it’s the first to really focus on one of its clothing brands on its own.

Yes the retailer’s ads have been star studded for a long time with Twiggy, Jamie Redknapp and Lisa Snowdon et al., but Reynolds and Huntingdon-Whiteley are in another league and it’s clearly the league that Bolland is aiming for.

Supermodel David Gandy, who is more often seen on the catwalk decked out in Dolce & Gabbana, is also the new face of the Autumn 2011 Collezione menswear collection.

The Autumn 2011 Limited Collection print campaign, starring up and coming models Sophie Byron, Suki Waterhouse and Louise De Chevigny has been shot by Rankin, one of the most acclaimed photographers in the business. He even shot the latest M&S’s kid’s campaign.

M&S wants its fashion ranges to become high-end fashion brands so it is acting like one.

In November, Bolland declared that M&S needed to make more of its brands. He has since simplified the brand structure, replacing a cluttered multi-layered brand architecture with clearly positioned M&S Men and M&S Women brands and turbo-boosted the Autograph range to make it a high end fashion brand, not just a range of M&S clothing.

By rubbing shoulders with the A-listers, M&S is demonstrating that it’s a cut above – and so is its fashion.

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