Publicis drafts in stars for MFI's £10m ad push

MFI has drafted in a raft of celebrities to feature in a £10 million television and print campaign.

The ad push is intended to drive MFI's transformation from a flat-pack furniture seller to a retail chain with a reputation for well-designed, quality products.

Ruby Wax, Martine McCutcheon and the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay are among the stars appearing in the campaign, the first to focus on the MFI brand and the branded products sold within its stores.

The "big names under one roof" push, through Publicis, is part of a wider initiative by the UK's biggest furniture retailer to shed its "cheap and cheerful" image.

ZenithOptimedia will handle media planning and buying for the advertising, which aims to win over brand-conscious women aged 25 and over who have families and who are looking for stylish and elegant design solutions.

The four television executions breaking nationally next Monday will concentrate on the major brands to be found in MFI outlets. They include Schreiber, Hygena, Bosch, Smeg, The Bath Co and Sofa Workshop.

Jeff Stark of Stark Films directed the commercials, each of which focuses on a different room in the house and shows glimpses of someone going through their usual routine. Only at the end of the ad is the celebrity's identity revealed after the question: "Whose room is this?"

In the films, Ramsay is seen eating beans on toast in a Schreiber kitchen, while McCutcheon finds her missing passport down the side of a Sofa Workshop sofa. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer get ready for sleep in a Schreiber bedroom, while Lenny Henry steps out of a tub in a bathroom by The Bath Co.

Other famous names will feature in four forthcoming print executions shot by Patrick Litchfield to support the TV campaign. They are Ruby Wax (Schreiber), Vinnie Jones (Hygena) and Harry Hill (The Bath Co). They will run on poster sites in London and the south east and in the national press.

Sofa Workshop, acquired by MFI at the end of last year for up to £12.25 million, is intended to accelerate MFI's presence in the £2.6 billion UK upholstery market.

Meanwhile, the company is engaged in a makeover of all its outlets, dumping its old warehouse ambience.

This programme has already paid dividends, with sales up by 12.5 per cent last year to £861 million, and orders in refitted stores increasing by 25 per cent.

Siobhan Fitzpatrick, MFI's head of advertising and PR, said: "Recognising the growing interest in interior design and that people's aspirations are changing, MFI is changing to meet customer demands."

The campaign was written and art directed by the Publicis creative team Stephen Glenn and Noel Sharman.