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On your Marks for a lucrative summer

Before Easter, Marks & Spencer launched its latest summer campaign, at the centre of which is a 90-second Britfest so sickly sweet it’s like Hannah Montana tucking into a year’s supply of candy floss and so dripping in nostalgia that Wayne Hemingway’s Vintage Festival would look positively futuristic next to it.

By now you’ve probably seen it (you can hardly have missed it): there’s messing about on the river with Lisa Snowdon, a garden party with a matriarchal Twiggy, tennis with an inappropriately dressed Jamie Redknapp and a scantily clad (as per) Noémie Lenoir, an egg and spoon race with Dannii Minogue and Myleene Klass and a campfire sing-song with Gary Barlow.

All this, so they say, is supposed to get you “on your Marks for a summer to remember”. Quite.

It’s all very Swallows and Amazons/Wind in the Willows and specifically designed to nod to the variety of events going on in the UK this year: the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics, Wimbledon, the Jubilee River Pageant; the list goes on, despite Marks & Spencer not being an official sponsor of any of those. And it does beg the question as to which is more profitable: attaching your brand name to a huge event at great expense or producing an ad campaign that alludes to them?

Don’t be fooled into thinking the latter is the cheaper option: my sources (ie a very helpful chap on Twitter with a Brad Insight log-in) suggest a conservative estimate on the cost of the ad space alone would be north of £30m, before factoring in how much it cost to shoot Twiggy, Dannii, Gary et al. That’s a lot of pairs of slippers, Per Una dresses and meals for two for £10 that Marks & Spencer will need to shift to make its money back. But this isn’t just advertising, this is M&S advertising: with so much cuddly Britishness I think it might just work.

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