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M&S turns to Paddington Bear for a fully integrated Christmas campaign

Marks & Spencer has launched a Paddington Bear-themed Christmas campaign in an attempt to reach a broader family audience this holiday season.

Marks & Spencer's 'Paddington and the Christmas Visitor' campaign
Marks & Spencer’s ‘Paddington and the Christmas Visitor’ campaign

Marks & Spencer has launched a Paddington Bear-themed Christmas campaign in an attempt to reach a broader family audience this holiday season.

The ad, which ties to the launch of the Paddington 2 film, tells the tale of Paddington Bear waking from dreams of his favourite marmalade, to the sound of a burglar in his room. Mistaking the red-clad thief for Santa Claus, he inadvertently saves Christmas by re-delivering the stolen presents.

The 90-second spot by Grey London was made to appeal to the whole family instead of the usual target of “Mrs M&S”, who was the focus for 2016’s Mrs Claus campaign. It aims to make a more emotional connection with viewers than in previous years. As the lead characters watch a family opening their presents, for instance, the thief tears up, before being given a marmalade sandwich by the ever-generous Paddington.

“We’d been talking about using our family credentials to leverage growth for a while. We loved the notion of two major British icons coming together and Paddington was the ultimate family character,” Rob Weston, head of marketing at M&S, told The Drum.

Given Paddington is recognised as an iconic British character, continuity in his character was critical for the campaign, according to Vicki Maguire, chief creative officer of Grey London. Simon Fanaby, who co-wrote Paddington 2, wrote the ad with the Grey London team, and the same actor who voices him in the films, voiced the bear for M&S. The ad was directed by Daniel Kleinman, who is known for the James Bond title sequences. The whole process took over four months, with every care taken to ensure Paddington was kept in character.

In a broader sense, the campaign ties into Marks & Spencer’s “Spend it Well” tagline launched in May, which encourages shoppers to focus on the people and experiences that really matter. This line is accompanied by the hashtag #lovethebear for the season, which is a connection to the multimedia fluency of the campaign and the fact Weston calls this M&S’s “most joined up campaign ever”.

The spot itself was debuted on social media, but will also live on TV and in cinemas ahead of every screening of Paddington 2. There are also various free screenings of the film for M&S’s Sparks loyalty members.

The concept also extends to a much wider integrated campaign however. Paddington Bear will appear in store as the focus of the retailer’s window displays and feature in 90 themed products, including toys, on pyjamas and in the marmalade in M&S Foodhalls. The spirit of the campaign will further come to life in-store as designated ‘moment makers’ deliver random acts of kindness to customers.

This is also the company’s most personalised campaign, with numerous stores containing “personalisation stations” this Christmas, where shoppers can personalise gifts such as baubles or t-shirts for friends and family.

Adding to the interactive experience, the ad has been made into a £3 children’s book that will see all profits donated to the NSPCC.

Online, there is also an interview with Paddington Bear on the retailer’s Style & Living hub, alongside downloadable marmalade recipes.

By Daisy Riley

Being an identical twin, fashion has always been Daisy Riley's way of expressing her identity and she takes particular interest in the psychological side of fashion accordingly. She is currently a student at London College of Fashion, studying fashion media practice and criticism, while also contributing to the TheCurrent Daily team as a researcher and writer.

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