M&S wins Christmas with message of festive female power

Marks & Spencer's Mrs Claus in its Christmas with Love campaign

Marks & Spencer’s Mrs Claus in its Christmas with Love campaign

Move over John Lewis, Marks & Spencer may just have beaten you to the title of best Christmas campaign in UK retail this year.

“Christmas with Love” is not only a heartwarming festive tale, but a message of female empowerment at a time of political dismay coming out of the recent US elections. In an anti-Trump statement, its heroine is none other than Mrs Claus herself.

A feminist declaration, it sees Oscar-nominated actress Janet McTeer, sneaking off on her own secret mission during Christmas Eve night, while Santa is busy away on his sleigh. Taking several cues from James Bond – snowmobile, underground transport hub, helicopter ride and more – Mrs Claus arrives at the home of a little boy to make his Christmas wish come true.

Unlike her husband, she skips all the difficult bits, like sliding down the chimney, and instead acts the ultimate logical superhero by striding purposefully the front door. It’s bold, modern and completely kickass, which supports much of the sentiment about it across social media.

The three-minute tale was created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, and directed by Tom Hooper, of The King’s Speech, Elizabeth I and Les Miserables fame. It’s an ambitious piece of cinematic storytelling, as others like Burberry have strived for this season.

Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director of customer, marketing and M&S.com, said: “Our ‘Christmas with Love’ campaign is a brand new approach for M&S this year, one that has been created with our customers and for our customers, with their feedback at the heart of our strategy. Our ambition is for M&S’s customers across the nation to experience something special this festive season.”

It launches during a challenging time for the retailer, after it announced the closure of 60 stores and a fall in pretax profit of 88% during the first six months of this financial year. Never before has there been such a need for it to turn to fulfilling what its customers really want.

“Mrs Claus is the result of thousands of conversations that we had with our customers to understand what they want from M&S – which is warmth, empathy and a touch of humour presented in a modern and contemporary way. She epitomises the huge efforts our customers put in to making the festive season special and represents the love and togetherness that customers want to feel and see in abundance at Christmas,” Bousquet-Chavanne added.

The ad has already been watched over 4 million times on YouTube. It is supported online by a wealth of web content and fun social messaging (as per the below) backed by Mrs Claus with the #LoveMrsClaus hashtag. All of them continue in her note of female empowerment, even the replies being sent to individual users commenting on the ad. She will also appear in a spot giving style tips to TV presenter Dawn O’Porter and Christmas decoration suggestions to Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer.

The campaign comes of course hot on the heels of the US election and presumably a hope from the retailer that it would support the country’s first female president from afar had Hillary Clinton won. The #imwithher hashtag surrounding the presidential election is undoubtedly a great fit with this same message.

The concept of feminist marketing has been a big focus from brands across the board in recent years, including from others such as H&M and Netflix this autumn. John Lewis also nodded to the results of the US election, as well as Brexit, with a quote from Craig Inglis, customer director, that read: “2016 has certainly been quite a year, so we hope our advert will make people smile.”
It does that too, but for the women out there, M&S manages to go that one step further and gently remind us that hope is not completely lost, after all.