M&S signs up Olivia Colman, Eddie Redmayne and more for charity-led Christmas food ads

Nine of Britain's biggest film and TV stars narrate ads in push that will donate £2m to chosen charities.

M&S stars: Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren, Eddie Redmayne (Images: Getty)
M&S stars: Olivia Colman, Helen Mirren, Eddie Redmayne (Images: Getty)

Marks & Spencer has brought on board nine of the UK’s most prominent acting names to voice a series of ads in its classic “Not just food” style, that come alongside charity donations totalling £2m from the retailer to a range of charities.

The campaign, created by Grey London, kicks off with a spot that is live on social media and TV from this morning, in which Olivia Colman, star of The Crown, tempts shoppers with M&S products including a Light Globe Gin Liqueur and Mini Beef & Porcini Yorkshires.

A further execution will launch every week from now until the new year, each voiced by a different celebrity and profiling different items from the range.

Colman is one of two women to have portrayed Queen Elizabeth II to be involved: Dame Helen Mirren is also set to appear, along with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Eddie Redmayne, Gillian Anderson, Jeremy Irons, Dame Julie Walters, Naomie Harris and Tom Hardy.

The campaign was created by Naomi Taylor and directed by Helen Downing through Pulse.

The glitzy casting of the ads will be balanced by a major charity initiative under which M&S is donating £2m to various causes. This includes donations to charities chosen by the acting talent – in Colman’s case, this includes blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, anti-abuse arts charity Tender and spinal-cord injury charity Back Up.

Alongside this, M&S has chosen 10 employees from across the UK who are its most active charity volunteers, and will make a donation to their chosen charities. And lastly, through loyalty scheme Sparks, it will donate a further £1m to charities, including Shelter, Together for Short Lives and a further 35 organisations supported by Sparks.

Sharry Cramond, marketing director at M&S Food, said: “2020 has been a difficult year for all of us but at a time when charities are seeing their incomes fall significantly, we want to make sure that the M&S Food Christmas campaign builds on our existing charity partnerships and gives much-needed support to those that need it most.

“This is not the year for advertising fairy tales – our customers want this Christmas to be as special as possible but have told us that they want to know about the M&S Food must-haves and how we are supporting others.

“All charities featured in the TV ad will receive their donations ahead of Christmas so they can use the money immediately where it’s needed the most, and we are indebted to the nine amazing actors who gave their time so willingly to support these great causes.”

The TV and social video will be supported by print. M&S said it was aiming to reach more than 47 million adult shoppers across the UK during the campaign – today alone, the first ad is expected to be viewed by 7.2 million people.

The brand has also promised a “very special festive special” today at 11am on TikTok, where it now has 25,000 followers and where its Percy Pig videos have become popular.

M&S’s clothing and home division yesterday unveiled its Holly Willoughby-fronted social campaign, after it last week confirmed it would not be advertising on TV this Christmas.

John Lewis Partnership has also promised a Christmas campaign this year with support for charities at its core.