Holly Willoughby returns for M&S clothing Christmas campaign

The ad continues M&S's 'Must-haves' activity that launched in September.

Holly Willoughby returns for M&S clothing Christmas campaign

Marks & Spencer has brought back ITV presenter Holly Willoughby for its clothing and home Christmas campaign about "must-haves" for the festive season.

This is the second Christmas campaign from M&S, after it launched one for its food division on Thursday morning. The retailer has separate festive ads for the first time after splitting marketing operations for the two businesses earlier this year.

"The must-haves that make Christmas", created by Grey London, will debut on 13 November on social media and during Good Morning Britain. It depicts moments that make Christmas special for families, from decorating the tree to watching movies. Set to the track Give a Little Love by Tom Jones, it features a cameo by David Gandy and there are three alternate endings. Three 20-second edits, focused on partywear, knitwear and sleepwear, will launch on 15 November.

The work was created by Tom Houser, Christopher Keatinge, Matthew Kennedy and Georgia Horrocks, and directed by Gary Freedman through Independent. Mindshare is the media agency.

Aside from the TV spot, this campaign was designed to be mobile-first to reach the brand’s target audience of busy parents, according to Nathan Ansell, director of marketing for clothing and home. It will include shoppable Instagram posts, programmatic display and Google Shopping.

The ads, the first under Ansell since he took over marketing for the division earlier this year, take a different approach to M&S’s Paddington Bear Christmas campaign in 2017. Like the food spots, this campaign is more focused on products. Every item seen in the ad will be available in stores.

"Great marketing entertains but it also generates a behaviour change and ultimately leads to business growth," Ansell said. "We believe, by hitting that sweet spot of being entertaining but also showcasing the product, it will be a much more effective way of marketing. We want to get people shopping."

M&S needs to overcome people’s perceptions by promoting the stylish nature of its clothing, he added. In the retailer’s half-year results, clothing sales fell by 1.1%, compared with a 2.9% drop in the food division.

Willoughby became an M&S ambassador in September, starring in the brand’s "Must-haves" campaign. M&S chose Willoughby because she is a working mum with a strong fashion sense and massive social media following, including 4.3 million followers on Instagram, Ansell said. The brand has seen an increase of nearly 100,000 followers on its own Instagram account since the launch of the work.

"[The campaign] is very early days, but we’re encouraged by what we’ve seen so far," he added.