M&S report great consumer response to Helen Mirren and friends.

When M&S released their latest campaign featuring boxing star Nicola Adams, stylish elders, Grace Coddington and Helen Mirren, writer Monica Ali and artist Tracey Emin amongst others, doubters gathered to deliver a luke-warm reception.

Apparently, the all important Desire Factor was missing, even though Annie Liebovitz and her high profile women (all chosen for their intellect or talent as opposed to their ability to look good) thrilled us ordinary consumers.

Perhaps brand consultants, analysts and other experts lack knowledge in the progress of diversity culture? The request  is growing for brands  to make an empathic connection with women  by offering achievable and realistic role models. It’s the Reality Woman or Women  female consumers want to be inspired by.  Research shows a range of women is uplifting and good for self-esteem, leaving us to conclude that  Fantasy Girlfriend - a young sexy model who routinely appears when a male-heavy team get together to craft their womenswear ad campaign is less so!

But back to marketing. At the beginning of the launch, most experts remained anonymous in their criticism saying that M&S had overspent, or weren’t entitled to make such a grand statement. Neil Saunders from Conlumino the only one to give his name to a Drapers feature, thought the message would get lost. What behind the back of the cupboard Neil? Or in a crowded market place with lots of other diversity messages? Nope don’t think so.

Statistics later released (see below) on the effectiveness of the campaign prove him wrong too.

All Walks is currently lecturing across the UK on the need for emotionally considerate fashion practice and we salute M&S every time we lecture for obvious reasons. Any move which addresses a realistic and loving promotion of women gets our vote. We encourage consumers to vote with their wallets…it may not be your exact idea of what a diversity campaign could look like but think on this…it isn’t possible for one campaign to be THE ANSWER. We need to recognise that AN ANSWER is a begining and just as important.

We thought it was interesting also to note the similarities to our first campaign. M&S kindly gave us a small working budget to create it (as shown directly below). In 2009 when we launched, we asked the industry to consider using bigger models, older models and more racially diverse models. Ha!


All Walks Diversity Launch 2009 sponsored by M&S

M&S Gave All Walks a small working budget to support our campaign launched at London Fashion Week. Thank you Former Chief Executive Stuart Rose and Marketing Director Steve Sharp.

M&S begins its own Diversity Campaign to acknowledge customer Diversity

We were cock-a-hoop to see the first M&S  embodiment of the All Walks Message.

Recent M&S featuring women who do stuff as well as look good!

Statistics below, show why M&S got it right. But guys you don’t have to create a seven figure add budget, All Walks can show you how to do it a lot more reasonably!

Statistics as of mid October with one week left to run for campaign

M&S were asked to comment on the likelihood of a repeat shoot given the great results, but they have declined for now. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!

See Debenhams Diversity Look Book

Caryn Franklin

Former fashion editor and co-editor of i-D Magazine for 6 years in the early eighties, Caryn Franklin has been a fashion commentator for 31 years. She presented the BBC’s Clothes Show for 12 years and BBC’s Style Challenge for 3 years as well as producing and presenting numerous documentaries for ITV on designers including Vivienne Westwood, Philip Treacy and Matthew Williamson.

Working in education throughout her career as external assessor and lecturer in colleges like Central St Martins, London College of fashion and Royal College of Art, she is also an ardent fashion activist and has co-chaired the award winning Fashion Targets Breast Cancer for 17 years and proposed the London College of Fashion Centre of Sustainability and is its ambassador.

Follow Caryn on Twitter: @Caryn_franklin