‘It’s On’ – M&S takes a digital-first approach with its Christmas campaign

M&S is changing its traditional TV advert for its home and clothing business this year to a festive campaign with a ‘digital media focus’ that hopes to inspire shoppers whilst they search for gifts. 

Tackling the topic, Marketing Week writes that the retailer’s ‘It’s On’ campaign casts a light on ‘fun’ festive moments, from ‘outshining the tree’ wearing a sequin top, to ‘going matchy-matchy’ wearing family pyjamas. 

The campaign will run across digital platforms including the M&S website, video-on-demand (VoD) and Pinterest, as well as traditional channels such as store windows and print. 

Yet, the non-digital platforms will still contain digital elements; for instance, QR codes will enable customers to directly scan ads to shop the ranges. The goal is to ‘turbocharge’ growth online, which has experienced a 46% hike in sales since the beginning of the pandemic and already makes up around 40% of total sales. 

Nathan Ansell, M&S clothing and home marketing director, commented: “While Christmas may feel different this year, we know our customers want to make it special for the ones they love, and that spirit is at the heart of our campaign.

“We’re using a range of channels to reach our customers and with a digital media focus our aim is to tap into customers as they’re in a ‘scrolling and shopping’ mindset, inspiring them with festive gifts for all the family.”

Though there isn’t a traditional TV element this year, video still plays a pivotal role. M&S’s brand ambassador, Holly Willoughby, stars in a series of videos where she declares to the nation, “baubles to 2020.”

The videos show a range of Christmas items, from pyjamas to sequin tops for Zoom parties. There are over 10 versions, with shoppers shown the one most suited to them, based on data like search and information from its Sparks loyalty programme. 

Speaking to Marketing Week, Ansell acknowledged the importance of adopting a more data-led approach to marketing. 

“We can understand what customers are likely to be interested in even if they have never shown an interest in our own data,” he said. “Combining [first- and third-party data] to target customers more effectively should lead to happier customers and increased sales for us.”

The decision to utilise VoD comes as IAB data reveals a 38% rise in audience viewing during lockdown. The videos will show on services such as ITV Hub and All 4 across mobile, tablet and desktop, as well as on social and YouTube pre-roll.

M&S is also tailoring its radio ad through local location callouts, regional turns of phrase and regional accents. The focus on local is important to the retailer; it created 350 store Facebook pages over the pandemic that reach up to one million people each week. 

Just as important are communications designed to reassure customers that shopping is safe with M&S during the pandemic. The retailer has just launched its ‘Book and Shop’ service on its app, where shoppers can book slots and beat queues. 

M&S is a great example of a retailer adapting to new consumer trends brought on by the enduring pandemic. The Delta Group has the solutions and know-how to deliver campaigns that appeal to your target audience this Christmas and beyond – get in touch today to find out more.