Marketing Moments 2012: Marks & Spencer scores Christmas gold

M&S left rivals in the shade with a truly inspiring Christmas campaign

Retailers gorging on lavish Christmas ad campaigns have fast become the UK marketing industry’s answer to the Superbowl, and 2012 didn’t disappoint. Asda managed to alienate its target audience with a 50s-inspired overworked housewife, while John Lewis relied on schmaltz with another spot designed to pull on the heartstrings. But it was Marks & Spencer that took the Christmas gold and secured a well-earned place on 2012’s marketing moments of the year by standing for something bigger than simply getting the biggest share of consumers Christmas pounds.

A four-year-old boy with Down's Syndrome took a starring role in the retailer's Christmas campaign, following an impassioned Facebook campaign by his mother.

Caroline Playle took to Marks & Spencer’s Facebook page to ask it to use Seb in its Christmas campaign. She wrote: ‘My heartfelt plight is to get him ‘out there’ and get the message across that different isn’t any less wonderful – or even that different. My ultimate goal is to see him in an ad campaign to represent the many children out there starting school who are a little bit different but leading typical family lives.’ Her post was met with a torrent of support from Marks & Spencer’s Facebook fans and Seb appeared in the Christmas campaign.

In the words of Seb’s mum Caroline: ‘I also think using him could help create a truly original, bold and memorable campaign, which would fit perfectly with M&S’s family values and ethics’. She, of course, was right, so bravo to Steve Sharp and his marketing team.

The Upshot

What brands can learn from Marks & Spencers’ winning strategy

  • Beyond Crowdsourcing: Consumer Advocates

Marks & Spencer is one of a growing tranche of brands that recognise social media is about far more than simply collecting meaningless milestones such as 'likes'. Smart brands understand that listening and then responding to consumers lies at the heart of all good marketing. Sometimes the smartest ideas originate outside the Chinese walls of the marketing department.

  • Give consumers the diversity they want

The advertising and marketing industry is lagging behind society when it comes to truly embracing diversity. Marketers must always beware of presenting a narrow world view.

  • Beware the marketing fishbowl

In the pressure to deliver the next presentation or award-winning campaign, marketers are at risk of missing the bigger picture. Staying in touch with the wider world and the hopes, dreams and concerns of your consumers is key to not appearing out of touch. Listening is everything.

Was M&S your marketing moment of the year. Let us know what you think @MarketingUK @nickykc

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA