M&S focuses on ‘bite-size moments’ for mobile-first Christmas campaign

Marks & Spencer has taken a mobile-first approach to its Christmas ad campaign, upping digital spend to 25% for the first time ahead of what marketing boss Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne predicts will be the “biggest online Christmas ever”.

‘The art of Christmas’ campaign, created by RKCR/Y&R, is a continuation of the retailer’s recently-launched ‘The art of’ concept. It kicks off with a longer compilation ad showcasing a series of Christmas moments, including ‘The art of making an entrance’, ‘The art of the night before’ and ‘The art of the feast’, each of which highlights a different point in the festive season.

The ad, which is celebrity-free for the second year, shows an 8-year-old girl’s journey as she travels through the different stages of Christmas set to a new edit of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk.

Shorter 20-second versions of some of the occasions, such as ‘The art of noise’ and ‘The art of surprise’ will be released to coincide with consumers’ shifting priorities in the run up to Christmas. ‘The art of making an entrance’ will air towards the end of November, for example, when consumers are planning what to wear during the party season.

“Our approach this year is less feature film and more on-trend box set. Customers want bite-size consumption.”

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of marketing and international, M&S

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Rather than launching the campaign on social media as the brand has done for the past couple of years, the ad will be debuted to its two million Sparks loyalty card members at 3pm today (6 November). Each member will receive an email with ‘The art of Christmas’ ad before it is unveiled on social media and M&S.com at 5pm tonight. The campaign’s TV debut will be on Sunday (8 November) during Downton Abbey.

Festive food showcase

M&S’s food campaign follows the same ‘box set’ strategy but uses the ‘Adventures in Christmas’ format. It kicks off with a longer ad to reflect the selection of festive food the retailer has on offer before shorter edits are rolled out to pick up on specific food trends.

The four shorter ads – ‘Adventures in surprises’, ‘Adventures in stars’, ‘Adventures in glitz’ and ‘Adventures in the big day’ – will run in stages from 15 November, again picking up on different moments throughout the festive season.

The shorter edits of both the GM and food ads are designed specifically to appeal to mobile audiences, Bousquet-Chavanne said.


“This is going to be our most digital Christmas ever in terms of spend. We’re looking at north of 25% this year, which is an all time high across multiple devices. We expect mobile to be the primary driver of consumer engagement, which is why we need those shorter, attention grabbing adverts.”

The retailer expects 4 billion online visits across the festive season “first and foremost for inspiration”, he said, with 75% of the UK population making at least one purchase through digital channels – “an all time high”.

The shift to digital is being fuelled by the retailer’s click and collect offer, which Bousquet-Chavanne said is driving later purchasing behaviour. He expects most in-store purchases to happen after 15 December.

Earlier this year chief executive Marc Bolland stressed the importance of joining up categories in one consistent campaign. “Our food and GM are from the same handwriting and in the year ahead you will see that coming through more and more, with more consistent and emerging worlds in our ads regardless of the products featured,” he said.

The retailer introduced ‘The art of’ campaign concept in September to reflect the “strong authority and confidence” the business now has in fashion, according to Bousquet-Chavanne who said it was important to continue that theme through its Christmas activity.