Marks & Spencer leads with social media in #followthefairies Christmas campaign

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Christmas campaigns are notoriously big budget affairs for those in the retail space – and 2014 looks set to be no different thus far. For Marks & Spencer however, that spend is being placed largely in social media.

The British store is backing its #followthefairies campaign via the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, in so doing ditching the celebrity signings it focused on last year in Helena Bonham Carter, David Gandy and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

The two fairies, Magic and Sparkle (a traditional play on the name ‘M&S’ for the festive period), have a Twitter account called @thetwofairies, where they’ve been sharing details of the “random acts of kindness” they’ve been carrying out undercover across the UK so far.

They’ve done things like delivering chocolates to a hospital ward, creating snow outside a primary school in Cornwall and organising lights that look like real fairies flying above Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge. They also gave a variety of unbranded gifts to random individuals they tracked down on social media who were wishing for certain things.

That word unbranded is key here, none of the acts until recently were known to be anything to do with M&S, though the Twitter account rapidly grew its following, hitting a reported 12,000 fans before the association was known.

All was revealed as the main ad for the campaign was released on Friday. This short spot sees the two fairies sprinkling their magical dust throughout the night – doing things like transforming a washing line of clothes into bold party outfits, convincing children away from the TV and outside to play when it starts to snow, upgrading Christmas presents being wrapped, and even bringing a couple together.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Marks & Spencer’s executive director of marketing and international, said: “The magic of Chritsmas is how it brings out that little part in all of us that wants to believe in the extraordinary. It’s a moment to escape the realities of every day and give in the joyfulness of the festive spirit. We wanted to capture that feeling and bring Magic and Sparkle to life in a fun and light-hearted way that spreads a little cheer.”

On the social media strategy, he added: “This Christmas will be the biggest online Christmas ever in the UK and the most social Christmas, fuelled by an unprecedented surge in the use of mobile phones and tablet computers.”