The Magazine's review of advertising
THE ADS: M&S and Asda
THE BRIEF: Show off new celebrity endorsements - Myleene Klass and Victoria Wood respectively
THE SCHTICK: Myleene joins the cast list of M&S's models, while Victoria plays trainee baker for a week
THE BREAKDOWN: Once upon a time Marks and Spencer (as it used to be known) self-confidently eschewed the vulgarity of advertising, an activity more suited to those kinds of clothes shops not assured of the patronage of their established clientele.
Then it discovered that people rather preferred those kinds of clothes shops. Pretty sharpish, it took to the whole advertising business, rather like a curate discovering space dust.
With Twiggy, Erin O'Connor and ELO, the image was changed to goodtime girls, horsing around dressing up, looking great and having fun. And, with that, an illustration for business textbooks of a failing brand being turned around was born.
So what does the addition of Myleene Klass add to the mix? The company's latest film shows Klass joining in the fun with her new pals - Twiggy etc - as they go down to the river for a picnic, accompanied by another feelgood classic, Itchycoo Park by the Small Faces.
It's pretty harmless stuff, though if the company takes the same approach to showing it as they have with their "This is not just food" ads - ie repeating it until everyone is ready to bash their heads against an Oakham chicken - certain questions will inevitably start occurring in the viewer's mind, including:
• Who goes down to a riverbank for a picnic with three changes of clothes? Klass herself has two bikinis, a swimsuit and three dresses. The joke at the heart of the ad (though blink and you'll miss it) is that they've not taken food for their picnic, they've taken clothes to dress up in. Not even M&S food can tempt these girls.
• Klass's mischievous glance over her shoulder almost screams "come on down to the riverbank where we can splash about in swimsuits". Can this really be a reference to her infamous I'm A Celebrity shower scene (which left very little to the imagination)?
• Beautiful women in nice clothes are a proven winner, but is there a slight air of suggestion here? What is the effect of using Klass's sexuality - and who is it aimed at? Incidentally Klass is expecting her first child in September, and thus doesn't now look quite like she does in the adverts. This might have been considered an inconvenience for M&S, but the company has instead shot a new campaign with the star in her blooming state.
• Is that a wistful look in Twiggy's eye as she sits on the swing?
• Though they're not the target audience, hardcore motoring enthusiasts will wonder why, in the initial shot of the girls in the car, they are driving a 1950s Simca but in the second shot it has apparently switched to a 60s model.
The Asda campaign, which consists of a series of films shot over a week in which Victoria Wood actually worked in a branch's bakery, has been remarked upon for two reasons in particular: one that it abandons Asda's long-standing signature buttock-slap, and two that it is a move away from emphasising price above all else.
Supermarkets have long realised that their customers only really want two things from them - quality and price - and that their advertising needs to reflect that delicate balance. A classic statement of this is "Good Food Costs Less at Sainsbury's" - but practically all supermarket ads are somewhere on this spectrum.
Incidentally the buttock-slap is one of a very few gestures which are actually registered as a trademark. For the purposes of advertising meat, fish, poultry, game, coffee, tea, bread, and agricultural, horticultural and forestry products, and many others items, Asda "owns" the action of patting one's back pocket to feel how much money is in it (see internet links for more details). Other trademarked gestures include touching the side of one's nose as if to indicate inside knowledge and tipping a bowler hat, which are both registered by building societies.
The style of these films - inspired by reality TV in which celebrities do ordinary things - is refreshingly genuine, and you can see the natural ease with which Wood gets on with people. One advert shows a manager of probably half Wood's age, cheekily telling her and another worker to stop talking and get on with their work. Another shows Wood taking a trolley of fresh loaves around the shop, trying to persuade people to buy it - which she does very sweetly and it's no surprise that customers warm to her.
Wood is obviously a careful choice for the firm. Northern, genuine, approachable, and with her 12th Bafta nomination under her belt this year, a national institution. What better message could the shop choose to send? And, frankly, while Tesco is playing down claims of "Tescopoly" - that its influence is becoming overwhelming - it has used so many celebrities in its adverts in the past couple of years that there must be few still available. Paul Whitehouse is apparently lined up to follow in Wood's footsteps, at the fish counter.
For Asda the key phrase comes when Wood is taking a tray of loaves out of the oven and says to the fellow baker that she "thought it was all a bit of a fib" and that she didn't believe that there were bakeries in Asda branches. Ker-ching.
The notion of celebrity endorsement is as old as the hills, and it's a bit of a wonder that we as consumers of advertising haven't got wise to it yet. We could probably believe that Stephen Fry drinks Twining's tea, and that Kate Moss shops at TopShop. But do we really believe that David Hasselhoff uses Pipex broadband?
How much do you, as a viewer, believe that Klass wears M&S and that Victoria buys her bread at Asda? If you do, the ads have succeeded.
Ad Breakdown is compiled by Giles Wilson
A selection of your comments:
Victoria Wood lives near Lancaster and about 8 years ago when I was still living up north I was shopping in Asda at the same time as Victoria and her family. Incidentally it was also near the bakery section !
Karen , Formerly from Lancaster
Just look at Gala Bingo's ads, Sharon Osborne loves nothing more than playing Gala Bingo with her friends. Pah!
B Carter, Walsall
Call me old school but just a few years ago we had 5 TV stations and thousands of grocers. Now we have 500 TV stations and 5 grocers. It's a funny old world!
Colin Dale, London
Well at least they got it the right way round: Klass in a bikini, and Victoria Wood in overalls!
I can believe Klass wearing M&S and Wood buying bread at Asda far more than Eva "Desperate Housewives" Longoria dyeing her own hair at home with L'Oreal...
Alex D, Southampton, UK
Who is Myleene Klass? C'mon M&S, use someone your target audience might actually know!
David, Milton Keynes
I don't believe that Myleene Klass, Twiggy or Erin would buy any clothing from M&S, and this twee advertising does absolutely nothing for me - and I AM their target audience.
I can quite believe that someone as down-to-earth as Victoria Wood might buy her bread from Asda, and I do like the style of this ad but I do wonder - did she REALLY work there for a week as a baker? It's hard work, so hats off to her if she did.......and it would be a much nicer place to shop if the staff were more friendly and approachable like Victoria.
Amber, Haywards Heath
I for one, would be very surprised if ex Atomic Kitten, Kerry McFadden's entire Christmas lunch came from Iceland. Very surprised indeed!
Jimmy McLean, London
Adverts? What adverts? I use Sky Plus to record everything and fast-forward through them all!
The benefit of using celebrity endorsements in adverts is not necessarily only about convincing people that they use the products. Consumers are also more likely to sit up and pay attention to what one of their favourite celebrities say about a product whether they believe that they themselves use it or not. The use of celebrities are more a way of capturing attention than using peer pressure to get people to buy something.
And David Beckham, a professional footballer, drinks a bottle of ice cold, sugar crammed Pepsi after every match...
When will Halifax stop thinking that we want to see their staff singing and dancing (poorly) to convince us to open savings accounts with them? If anything it is has the opposite effect of keeping me out of my local branch in fear of hearing that tedious singing once more!
Daniel Harrison, Wolverhampton
I would suggest that if you do not know who Myleene Klass is - then you are not in M&S target audience!!!
Julia , Chelmsford
I don't take any notice of the adverts to be honest, so don't care who stars in them. I'm only ever conscious of the fact that probably we as consumers are paying extra at the till for these "stars" to appear in these adverts. But people are gullible, do take notice and do go out and buy something a celebrity endorses. Its the same with celebrity magazines, for me I have to stay I have slightly more intelligence to read the trash they provide and therefore stay on the shelf! And in answer to the question, no I wouldn't buy a dress from M&S because Twiggy has worn it! Get a life people!
Anyone remember Jamie Oliver's early Naked Chef episodes where the emphasis was on buying local from grocers and butchers? But all of a sudden he claims to do his shopping at big conglomerate Sainsburys!! Bit of a double standard me thinks!
I for one, would be very surprised if ex Atomic Kitten, Kerry McFadden's entire Christmas lunch came from Iceland. Very surprised indeed!
Surprised? You must be kidding! Kerry whatever-she-calls-herself-these-days has Iceland written ALL over.
DF, London, UK
I saw Victoria Wood in Superdrug a couple of weeks ago, so why wouldn't I see her in Asda?
I found the Asda advert fascinating for the 'behind the scenes' look at the bakery - but had not recognised who the featured baker was!
Megan, Cheshire UK
I do believe as stated above Victoria would shop at ASDA, Myleene however, naa doubt it, what would her popstar superstar friends say if she turned up to a 5 star swanky hotel in London wearing a pair of £22.95 sandals from M&S, i can just imagine the doorman's face, 'sorry, not tonight love'
Dean Cusworth, Barnsley, South Yorks
I try not to be cynical but wonder if the ads for Asda were more geared around the fact it was made not to look like an AD as our lovely Victoria cant be seen to be advertising anything, other than generic bread....
Mark Clift, London UK
The only way you'd get me inside M&S is if there was a chance that Myleene was there. But since neither I nor Myleene are in our sixties which appears to be the target age for the clothing range, I guess I'll just have to keep visiting Ortak the jeweller in the hope of seeing Myleene.
It's a bit like Jamie Oliver advertising for Sainsburys and then being photographed shopping at Waitrose.
volker, naphill, england
Personally I dislike the Asda ad, it took me 5 or 6 views before i figured out who it was, not that im dim but i honestly just zone out during ads and i assumed she was just another random person plunked in front of a camera like all those cheesy insurance/claim ads.... The M&S ads though... Myleene + Bikini = attention.
Dougall Marshall, Scotland
I think both these TV adverts (as far as adverts go) are excellent. I remember them and exactly what they are for. How many car adverts do you see but can't remember what car it is?
I was never impressed by the "Good food costs less at Sainsbury's" slogan. As someone once said, this is logically equivalent to "Bad food costs more at Sainsbury's".
Clothilde Simon, Leeds
Actually Jimmy, I reckon Kerry McFadden's food probably does come from Iceland. She is suited ideally to that campaign.
Catherine, Milton Keynes, UK
Re the Tesco bakeries. Do they really make the bread from scratch or do they just bake dough that has been brought in?
I think the Asda ad is very good and Victoria Wood makes it very believable. However it won't make me change from doing my shopping at Tesco! They have a bakery in-store as well.
Mark D, Coventry
I really enjoyed Asda's new adverts. They aren't cringe-worthy or fake. I also do not mind Myleene being in the M&S adverts. I think she is reputable enough for this company's image. There are many other endorsements such as Kerry Katona's Iceland crusade which drive me to the point of a mental breakdown.
Lorna , Bristol
Victoria Wood may get her bread from Asda but she gets everything else from Marks and Spencers! I have seen her several times in the food hall of our local Marks and Sparks.
I've seen all the ads but the only celebrity I recognised was Victoria Wood. Victoria is a good catch for Asda as she comes across as down to earth and personable and it is believable that she'd shop in a store that has the same attributes. I'm 28 and employed so would expect most advertisers to be targeting me to encourage me to spend my money with them. They are wasting their money on 'celebrity' endorsements if the celebrities are not instantly recognisable.
Catherine Landers, Manchester, UK
I'm not convinced that Tony tiger fella still eats Frosties, with all the money he must have earned since the 1970's. My mate reckons he once saw him eating Pop Tarts, but I don't know if it was another tiger that just looked like Tony.
James Crookes, Sheffield
Adverts do anger me at times. I am still waiting to have a shave and become weightless and float about my bathroom, or spray the Lynx I have and be chased by fit women. Lynx's slogan was "Spray more, get more".. should have been "Spray More, buy more" more like.. some adverts are funny though.
Barry Inglis, Dundee, Dundee
I happen to like very much the M&S adverts, although for the wrong reasons - as I don't tend to buy women's clothing from there. But they sure have created some brand awareness!
Mike London, London
Does Richard E Grant really shop at Argoose?
Firstly who exactly does David think is the M&S target audience? The whole point of these ads is that the women represent a broad spectrum from the more mature woman, through to the english rose and the fashionista. You may also have noticed that Niomie who was the main underwear model in not in this ad and has therefore been replaced with Mylene, who I think looks pretty good in a £10 bra ! Secondly, Erin's has been photographed out on the town and when her outfit appeared in a fashion mag, parts of it were M&S !
I take exception to Amber's comments! I regularly shop at ASDA and find the staff there very friendly and approachable - maybe it's a Northern thing?
I would like to state that the chest-in-chest-out gesture made by living people twelve-to-fifteen times a minute is hereby a trade mark of mine (registered with myself). The 'breathing' gesture represents my own brand of telepathy, and if you don't receive telepathy and think this is all a complete load of cod's, you still have to cough up!
Nigel Macarthur, London, England
I also doubt that Lennox Lewis uses RAC car insurance on his small hatchback and Thierry Henry with all his millions drives a Renault Clio!! At least these ads are a bit more believable...
My wife bumped into Myleene shopping in a London branch of M&S so it would seem that she likes to shop there........
I don't believe Twiggy wears M&S clothes, but it's nice to see her back on the screens again.
And why wouldn't Victoria Wood shop at Asda? You have to get your bread from somewhere...
John R, London
Regarding the M&S ad as a car enthusiast and regarding the car used. It's an Opel not a Simca.
So the nose tap is trademarked by a building society then eh? This would mean the Screwfix Direct publicity department has spoken to this building society in order that they could use it in the ad I saw on television last night? Or not?
hazel, hove, actually
If you believe Victoria made the "bit of a fib" comment without prompting or suggestion by the Ad producers, you're also a sucker for the ad.
My sister actually saw Erin O'Connor emerging from the changing rooms at the M&S in Marble Arch carrying armfuls of their clothes! Whether this was a cunning stunt on their part or a genuine endorsement I'll never know, because she vanished from my eyeline before I saw her make it as far as the till...
Jack Roper, London
I personally never look at these adverts and think 'if it's good enough for The Hoff it's good enough for me' - but, using celebrities does mean I'm more likely to remember a particular ad and so the next time I'm buying something, that's probably the product I'll look at first....
Chris Roberts, Woking, UK