Without doubt, the Christmas period is a competitive time for advertisers, particularly those managing big brand clients. The campaigns they’ve been polishing for the best part of the year are all now published and visible for the world – and its myriads of consumers – to see.
Why then is it that the launch of this year’s M&S TV advert (created by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R), with its somewhat charmingly stylised ‘#FollowTheFairies‘ twitter campaign and ‘Christmas is better with magic and sparkle’ strapline, feels somewhat… contrived?
As you can see above, the two fairies named ‘Magic’ and ‘Sparkle’ zip across rooftops whilst painting their nails and rescuing cats, spreading joy and kindness (and examples of some of the brand’s Christmas clothing line) across the UK. The ad, which now has more than 3 million views on Youtube, has been hailed by the Independent as “one of the best Christmas campaigns for 2014” but, despite it being viral, and charming, and beautifully put-together, I’m not sure I’m sold.
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, Executive Director of Marketing and International at M&S said: “The magic of Christmas 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 to 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.”
Don’t misunderstand me; tapping into what is lovingly referred to as “The most wonderful time of year” (to quote the Andy Williams classic) is very understandable… but also pretty… well.. boring, if I’m honest; if that was the SMP, particularly for what is supposed to be the most important campaign of the year, it just seems a bit obvious.
Saying all that however, there are aspects of this campaign that I do genuinely love.
Unity PR’s contribution of a mysterious Twitter account called @TheTwoFairies which trailed the ad’s release, spread the “magic” of Christmas via the hashtag #FollowTheFairies, and have been spotted in Birmingham, Newcastle, London, Glasgow and Manchester delivering surprise gifts of cakes, tea and make-up to people across the UK who had posted wishes on Twitter.
It’s most ‘magical’ gift (so far at least) has been to surprise the pupils of Britain’s most southerly school (Landewednack Primary in Cornwall) by covering the building in “snow”. With a lot of experience assisting in Primary classes growing up (Mum’s a Headteacher), I’m a sucker for happy children, and I’d argue its hard to find a child who does not get excited at even the mere hint of snow, so this particular ‘gift’, I find, really touching.
That combined with all sales proceeds of the ad’s accompanying single track (Gregory Porter and Julie London’s “Fly me to the moon”) going to the UK’s ‘Make a Wish’ charity, and it becomes hard to slate.
Advertising-wise, I don’t believe this is one of M&S’s best Christmas attempts, but its definitely hard to say “Bah Humbug” when the accompanying PR and CSR aspects are so sugar-plum sweet. Even if the concept itself isn’t something that I feel has particular consumer insight, I have to admit, there is something ‘magical’ about what M&S has tried to accomplish this year.