M&S Food brings Percy Pig to life in Christmas ad starring Tom Holland and Dawn French

Billed as its biggest campaign in several years, M&S Food has thrust Percy Pig into the spotlight for the first time – teasing him out to its 130,000 TikTok followers first.

M&S Food: Dawn French and Tom Holland lend their voice to its Christmas food spot
M&S Food: Dawn French and Tom Holland lend their voice to its Christmas food spot

From a chewy sweet to a global superstar, unlike the rest of his species, Percy Pig hasn't mucked about for the last thirty years. 

The brand has become a major selling point for Marks & Spencer, which shifts 16 million packets of Percy Pigs a year – that's 10 sweets a second.

It has also branched out with a line of cuddly toys, "phizzy" pop and popping pink homeware. And, despite having four trotters, Percy even has social media clout, with millions of people watching his antics on TikTok and Instagram. 

So the retailer said it made sense that Percy would be the star of M&S Food's Christmas campaign, which was made with support from creatives from Grey London and production company Outsider, with post-production from MPC. 

"We've based our Christmas ad on a much-loved M&S character," said Sharry Cramond, director of marketing for M&S Food. "I was chatting with a store manager in Edinburgh and he said the tourists are coming back. We need more Percy Pig merchandise because they're just going nuts for it. He really is a global brand." 

She explained that the last two years have been vital to understanding what customers are expecting and what they want.

"Customers told us that they really want a massive Christmas this year because it was essentially cancelled last year," she said. "40% of families are going to do more this Christmas than even before Covid while 70% said they're going to get together for a really big Christmas." 

Billed as its biggest campaign for several years, M&S Food is keen to capitalise on this Christmas hype. 

Animated and voiced by actor Tom Holland, in a scene akin to Night at the Museum, the film sees Percy Pig accidentally brought to life for the first time by Christmas fairy, Dawn French. 

Elated by his newfound life beyond branding and being consumed by sweet-toothed humans, Percy Pig excitedly scuttles around the store, discovering all the food M&S has to offer this Christmas – from the Collection Golden Blond Christmas Pudding to Delicate Smoked Salmon. 

Claiming it has two to three times more followers than its competitors, M&S teased its Christmas campaign to its 130,000 TikTokers on Wednesday (3 November), asking them to guess the voice of Percy with the hashtag #whoispercypig.

The pre-campaign has been seen by nine million people across the UK, according to the retailer.

Following the social tease, the campaign launches today (4 November) with a 60-second advert, with a further seven adverts to come. Rolling up until the new year, the films show Percy exploring different food products.

Beyond TV, the campaign will roll out on social channels with bespoke content and, for the first time, a TikTok takeover.

M&S Food claims the campaign is part of wider efforts to change perceptions, as the retailer looks to reshape its brand image. 

It's been no secret that the high street darling has struggled in recent years. Then the pandemic caused "seismic upheaval" according to boss Steve Rowe. 

The Christmas period is a vital trading season for most retailers, which invest in marketing to help drive sales.

The decision by M&S Food to use Grey London on the Christmas campaign is a fillip for the WPP shop after the client ended its retained relationship in favour of project work earlier this year and set up an in-house creative team.

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