Marks & Spencer

Before we start Christmas trading, Marks & Spencer are starting a push which will see the brand looking to discover new audiences and develop existing brands such as the successful Per Una, Autograph & Blue Harbour.

In a bid to appeal to a younger audience the move has already seen "M&S" used more in press releases and marketing materials while the brand has also taken out sponsorship of X-Factor ticket giveaways, replacing Very.

The TV ad was created by Rainey Kelly Campbell/Y&R and directed by Jordon Scott, daughter of Ridley. I think the new TV ad is a good execution. It has a nice middle class, middle age touch to it which won't upset traditional M&S customers however it has a youthful, playful edge to it.

Meanwhile to capture younger fans the brand has announced Ryan Reynolds and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as the new faces of their Autograph collection. While I like the use of Burberry model Rosie I'm dubious on the use of Hollywood actor Reynolds. I appreciate the 34 year old X-Man actor is a big pull but surely there was British talent they could have tapped into?

The brand has also announced plans for a new store strategy which will use 14 pilot stores to test new concepts such as developing the M&S brands in their own right, adding wooden shelves to the food department & introducing an in-house fresh pasta maker to become more of a "specialist". The push will also see new food packaging.

All this is a big, big investment by the brand and it will be interesting to see the developments. The sponsorship of X-Factor is an interesting move. The target age for the show is 16-34 which would see M&S hitting the lucrative 30-34 bracket. They could get a small percentage of late 20s if they are lucky.

These younger consumers are still very brand conscious. If I was M&S (and from previous buying experience) I would remove the M&S element from the clothing and concentrate on solely promoting Autograph and Collezione as brands. They have real, real potential.

Update: 14th September:
Just an update on this blog. I've today read that Marks and Spencer will be dropping "Marks & Spencer" from all clothing labels and rebranding as simply "M&S Woman" and "M&S Man". More info here but could be interesting!

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