M&S Remember that Fashion Should be Fun


Anything but Ordinary


You might expect clothing and fashion to be one of those product categories where the very things being sold give the ads an emotional boost. Everyone likes nice clothes, and everyone wants to feel good wearing them. Like confectionery or pet food, clothing ads should have a built-in advantage, right?

But this is far from the case. The fashion category has an average on Test Your Ad of only 2.4-Stars, in line with the UK average as a whole. The mistake a lot of clothing ads make is to imagine that they’re creating commercials for an audience who want the ultra-chic, elitist atmosphere of a Paris or Milan catwalk show. Unusual camera angles, rapid-fire cuts, stony-faced models and achingly hip music are too often the order of the day. They result in viewers failing to engage emotionally and ads which land in the 1- or 2-Star zone.

Fortunately, some brands remember that clothes are meant to be fun, even when they’re being worn by a top model. M&S’ latest ad, produced in-house, stars model and actress Sara Sampaio, who is having a marvellous time treating the world as her catwalk. She struts, smiles, and dances through the ad with an entourage, modelling some of M&S latest spring fashions as she goes. And all the while, she’s lip-syncing to an inspired retro music choice – Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”.

Fashion is fun; clothes are fun; springtime is fun. That’s the message M&S are putting across here, and audiences are ready to hear it. According to Anna Braithwaite, Marketing Director, M&S Clothing & Home: “We wanted to encapsulate the Spring season with a fun irreverent advert, tapping into the mood of the nation as we come out of winter. A celebration of fashion and women.”

A celebration indeed! The ad scores 4.4-Stars, a full 2 Star Ratings above the category average, putting it into the Top 10 fashion ads we’ve ever tested. It also performs exceptionally well on short-term Spike Rating and on Brand Fluency – 99% of the audience can name who the brand is. M&S are making Fashion ads look easy, even though we know from the data that most brands don’t come anywhere near this level of audience enjoyment.

Apart from not alienating casual viewers like many fashion ads do, what are the positive things M&S do here? The big one is that soundtrack – Cyndi Lauper’s hit is upbeat, melodic, and a nostalgic cultural reference; all things which are primed to increase effectiveness and attract the attention of the right side of viewers’ brains (which is associated with greater long-term effectiveness). But Sara Sampaio is a charismatic presence in the ad too, and by following her rather than cutting between multiple models the ad encourages greater identification and higher attention.

M&S get the basics right here – entertain the audience, make them aware who the ad is for, and make an enjoyable category feel that way. It’s a breath of fresh air in a world of Fashion ads that are often too cool for their own effectiveness good.


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