Campaign, which makes debut on Tuesday, is linked to 90 products and has charity tie-in, echoing tactics used by John Lewis
Marks & Spencer has followed the John Lewis festive playbook with a Paddington Bear-fronted Christmas campaign that embraces instore events, cuddly toys and a charity tie-in.
“Paddington and the Christmas Visitor” will be linked to 90 products including a £12 soft toy version of Paddington and a £42 duffel coat. An expected £200,000 in profits from one of the items – a £3 book – will go to the NSPCC to help fund its Childline service.
M&S will host children’s book readings in store and encourage staff to carry out “random acts of kindness” such as free marmalade sandwiches in the café.
The tactics echo those of John Lewis, whose festive campaigns have become a media event envied by other retailers. John Lewis spends about £6m on its annual campaign and has recently vied with Sainsbury’s to be the most-watched Christmas ad.
Last year’s John Lewis advert, featuring Buster the boxer bouncing on a trampoline, attracted more than 20m YouTube views and helped to raise money for The Wildlife Trusts. John Lewis also sells millions of pounds worth of merchandise linked to its ads. In 2014, the department store group sold £2.5m of goods linked to its Monty the Penguin ad, including 48,000 soft toys.
The M&S campaign will make its TV debut on Tuesday alongside the Pride of Britain awards on ITV. The ad will also be shown before cinema screenings of Paddington 2, which opens in British cinemas later this week.
In the ad, Paddington stumbles upon a burglar, whom he mistakes for Father Christmas, and helps him deliver a bag of stolen presents back to where they belong.
Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, director of marketing at M&S, said: “We wanted something which was fun, festive, entertaining, but family-centric.”
Paddington takes over from Mrs Claus, a character played by Janet McTeer, who fronted last year’s adverts. In previous years, the high street chain has relied on celebrities including Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry to pull in shoppers.
The change from the stylish Mrs Claus to a child-focused ad comes despite the success of last year’s effort, which helped M&S to report its first increase in Christmas clothing sales for six years.
By Sarah Butler and Graham Ruddick