business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

I have a good friend of mine who is immensely fond of the phrase, "Life is too short to drink cheap wine." (I would extend that to mediocre beer and lousy fast food.)

In the UK, Marks and Spencer has taken the sentiment to heart, unveiling a new advertising campaign, "Spend It Well," that focuses on the power of great products (mostly food and clothing) to enhance one's life. Using a wide variety of people and places, the campaign is highly aspirational, with just a hint of British cheek, saying at one point, "If it doesn't make you feel ten feet tall, if it doesn't take you somewhere extraordinary, say no ... We only get one life. Let's spend it well."

The campaign hasn't been universally applauded - some people find it to be too cultural and too little about brands - but I like it a lot ... especially because in a market where discounters have been doing significant damage to traditional retailers, this ad seeks to differentiate Marks and Spencer in a way that I think is quite effective. It also tells a story, and endeavors to illustrate an emotional connection between the retailer and its customers.

I believe a lot of retailers have not been effective enough about communicating the fact that "low price" and "value" are not the same thing, and that a a store can have both value and values without driving relentlessly toward the lowest common denominator.

I think that's what Marks and Spencer is doing in this ad ... and it is an Eye-Opener.

KC's View: