M&S tells customers to take it easy and ‘Love Thismas, not Thatmas’ for Christmas

The clothing and home campaign for M&S features a number of celebrities including Hannah Waddingham encouraging the public to embrace only the things they love about the festive season.

An OOH execution of the M&S Christmas ad 2023

M&S has launched its Christmas campaign for its clothing and homeware business with a TV ad encouraging consumers to ease the stress of the festive period and focus on what makes the season worthwhile.

The ad, which is set in the homes of four popular British celebrities, features actresses Hannah Waddingham and Zawe Ashton, singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor and presenter Tan France. It shows them growing frustrated with perceived Christmas ‘staples’ that actually end up detracting from the fun of Christmas, before throwing those activities out to focus on what makes them happy.

The ad features a cover of the Meat Loaf classic ‘I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that)’ by the musician Ray BLK, and is designed to “empower viewers to acknowledge the things we all do… that make the festive season a truly magical time with loved ones,” according to the company.

Anna Braithwaite, M&S clothing and home marketing director, tells Marketing Week that the ad’s message was rooted in research.

She adds: “When we spoke to our customers at the beginning of the year… it was very much that the sentiment was people were looking forward to a simplistic Christmas, to switch off of everything that’s taking place this year. [To] prioritise friends, and family.”

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She says that the talent was chosen specifically because of the wide range of consumers that M&S has. She explains that finding celebrities that could appeal to “20 million male and female, a huge, huge age span – probably wider than any other brand” was a challenge.

She explains that while humour is very much threaded through the ad, the primary attribute of the ad is empathy. It is in contrast to some of the other Christmas ads released so far this year which have made pricing and value a the key message. Braithwaite explains M&S’s value proposition has been communicated in other ways throughout the year: “Value is absolutely key,” she says.

“We’re never going to be the lowest prices and nor will we ever try to be. But for anything you need to buy, whether it’s party wear, Christmas PJs, beautiful products for your home… we are really, really confident that the quality and the value of our product honestly is better than our competitors,” Braithwaite adds.

To that end the Christmas campaign – while creatively distinct from that of M&S food – does share some similarities. Braithwaite notes that she hopes consumers will see that the two campaigns “go hand in hand”, but acknowledges that clothing and food both have separate buying behaviours that evolve and switch priority in the run-up to Christmas.

The ad, created in partnership with Mother, also has an OOH element launching to complement the TV ad. Featuring the talent associated with the ads decked out in M&S attire, the OOH ads also feature the ‘Love Thismas, not Thatmas’ message.