OPINION: MILLS ON ... MARKS & SPENCER

News that Marks & Spencer has completed its media pitches (as I write, we await the results) suggests that the first proper creative work from Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R (assuming that the current Jersey potatoes ad is a mere holding operation) is set to appear within the next couple of months.

News that Marks & Spencer has completed its media pitches (as I

write, we await the results) suggests that the first proper creative

work from Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R (assuming that the current

Jersey potatoes ad is a mere holding operation) is set to appear within

the next couple of months.



Whatever its shape or content, I suspect it is eagerly awaited by both

the industry and the public. It’s also a significant campaign for the ad

industry as a whole. If advertising can be seen to help rescue M&S, a

company in the doldrums and famously resistant to the very notion of

advertising, it makes a more eloquent and high-profile case for the

industry than a dozen IPA Effectiveness Awards ever could.



What will we see then? Well, from what I understand of the pitch process

between BMP DDB and Rainey Kelly/Y&R, it’s likely to be pretty upfront

and confident. This has less to do with the creative work per se as with

the differing tones adopted by the competing agencies.



BMP’s approach to M&S was too downbeat. It was the equivalent, and I

paraphrase, of putting a reassuring arm round the retailer’s shoulders

and saying: ’Listen. We know you’re in a mess. There’s no need to

worry.



We’re a big agency. We’ve handled you before. We’ll see you right.’

Rainey Kelly/Y&R’s approach was, by contrast, a little more ballsy. The

essence of its approach electrified the client. It said: ’Come on. Get

out of your shell. You’re a great brand and you’ve got a great story to

tell.’ No prizes for guessing why M&S opted for the latter.



While I could speculate quite happily about the actual creative work

(M&S has hundreds of great product stories to tell, although getting the

barons who run the individual fiefdoms that make up the company to cough

up may be a different story), the impending campaign also touches on two

of the most important industry issues today.



The first is the role of media strategy in any advertising process. In

the past few months, the big guys in the business seem to have woken up

to the importance of placing media at the centre or front of the

process, not at the end (and not before time too) - hence all the talk

of reintegrating media with creative.



It seems instructive, therefore, that M&S insisted Jim Kelly sit in on

the media pitches. This suggests that M&S may in some way use the medium

as the message. One obvious imperative is to use media to meet the need

for M&S to demonstrate a sense of confidence both to the general public

and its own staff. Another is to use media to differentiate M&S from

other retailers. Does this, to borrow a leaf from fcuk’s book, mean

96-sheet posters rather than the colour supplements?



The second is the extent to which Rainey Kelly/Y&R can integrate itself

and the concept of creativity into the corporate fabric of M&S just as

Lowe Lintas has with Tesco, HHCL & Partners with Iceland and TBWA GGT

Simons Palmer with fcuk. That, I’d say, depends on the ability of M&S’s

new marketing director, Alan McWalter, to force it to embrace

change.



By the way, do you notice anything about the trio I mentioned? Yep,

they’re all retailers - which shows it can be done.



dominic.mills@haynet.com.