Blog: Leonie BarrieM&S's 'leading ladies' praised

Leonie Barrie | 4 September 2013

The cast of 'leading ladies' assembled by retailer Marks & Spencer for its new advertising campaign has been widely criticised, not only for those it omitted (large or grey-haired women) but also those who made it into the line-up (most notably controversial artist Tracey Emin).

But one academic has carried out research that backs M&S's attempt to revitalise the brand with its core audience.

The campaign launched yesterday (3 September) features a dozen of Britain's most famous women including actress Dame Helen Mirren, Olympic medal winner Nicola Adams, ballerina Darcey Bussell, and novelist Monica Ali.

And according to Dr Tamara Ansons, assistant professor of marketing at Warwick Business School, the use of successful women rather than the traditional skinny model should be applauded.

Her research has shown slim female images in advertising can not only harm some women's well-being but subconsciously turn women off the brand as well.

"Overall, the new campaign by Marks & Spencer suggests they have gained a more refined understanding of their consumers and have attempted to develop advertising content that is going to appeal to their target consumers," she said.

For M&S, whose clothing sales have been in decline over recent quarters, much is riding on the success of this, the first collection put together by general merchandise director Jon Dixon and style director Belinda Earl.

But while every step the retailer takes seems to be ripe for criticism, if it has finally got it right, then ultimately it is these real women who will save the day. 

Sectors: Apparel, Retail

Companies: M&S, M&S, Marks & Spencer

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