M&S appoints Grey London as it tasks new agency with ‘putting customers at the heart of everything’

Grey London is set to head up all creative advertising for Marks and Spencer, as the retailer aims to bounce back from a sustained period of falling sales.

M&S has appointed Grey London to head up its creative account, with the appointment marking the first time the retailer has given one agency control of both its advertising and digital strategy. The agency will replace RKCR/Y&R, which has been in control of the M&S account for the past 16 years.

Grey London won a hotly contested pitching process, with VCCP and CHI & Partners also understood to be closely considered by M&S CEO Steve Rowe.

Despite high-profile successes such as a recent collection by TV presenter Alexa Chung, sales at the retailer’s clothing business have been in decline for more than five years.

Read more: M&S blames Brexit and poor weather as fashion sales spectacularly fall

In July, M&S suffered an 8.9% plunge in GM sales – representing its biggest fall in clothing since 2008. Food, which has been a jewel in the crown of M&S over recent years, also suffered a surprising 0.9% fall.

However, Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of customer, marketing & M&S.com, believes the appointment of Grey London can help M&S to improve its engagement with customers.

“Following the competitive pitch process we’re delighted to announce we are working with Grey as our fully integrated agency,” he said. “Putting our customers at the heart of everything we do is central to every decision we make as a business. Grey will help us engage with customers across all our channels – in-store, digital and mobile and our members club – Sparks.”

Read more: M&S on how native advertising can help revive its flagging fashion division 

Bousquet-Chavanne also paid tribute to the outgoing RKCR/Y&R, describing its work on both the ‘This just isn’t any food’ and ‘Magic and Sparkle’ Christmas above the line campaigns as “iconic”.

Grey London’s executive creative director Vicki Maguire says her agency will aim to talk up the history of M&S.

She added: “I’ve been waiting for the chance to work on M&S for years. Seriously. It’s just one of the biggest, best-loved brands in the country. It’s a proper institution; somewhere I’ve been shopping for more years than I care to remember.

“They asked us to push them, and we really, really did – and it became obvious very early on that we shared the same ambition and the same vision.”