Marks and Spencer pins hopes on ‘inspiring’ women to revive clothing sales

Marks and Spencer is hoping an eclectic mix of “leading lady” Britons including Dame Helen Mirren, singer Ellie Goulding and artist Tracey Emin will help it reverse long-term decline in sales of its womenswear.  

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The celebrities are among 12 British women featured in the marketing campaign to back the launch of the retailer’s Autum Winter collection shot by fashion photographer Annie Leibovitz.

The campaign’s stars, which also number Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams and ‘nurse of the year’ Helen Allen, have been chosen for their “strong sense of personal style” and “inspirational achievements”.

Ads will feature combinations of the women in various “quintessentially” British locations such as London’s Tower Bridge and the British countryside wearing clothes from the range.

The launch of the range is seen as pivotal in the retailer’s attempt to return its clothing business to growth. Last month, it posted an eighth consecutive quarterly fall in sales of general merchandise, which includes clothing and homeware receipts. 

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Marks and Spencer’s recently installed executive director of marketing and business development, says the collection and decision to draft in Leibovitz to shoot the campaign is an attempt to reassert the retailer’s style credentials.

 “We wanted this campaign to signal a new and confident tone of voice to introduce Autumn. Annie was the perfect choice to shoot a campaign of this magnitude. Her unmistakable, signature style, with its truly dramatic aesthetic was exactly what we needed to communicate the essence of the campaign and of the new M&S. Annie’s photography has become synonymous with defining key moments in the history of brands over the years and, as such, we feel that this campaign is the ideal way to illustrate M&S’ move into a new era,” he adds. 

The print, online and outdoor campaign, created by RKCR/Y&R , launches 3 September. The use of celebrities to push its Autumn Winter collection marks a change in strategy from last year when it opted to use women of all ages and sizes. 

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