Marks & Spencer's Leading Ladies Campaign by Annie Leibovitz: a lack of narrative?

Mark & Spencer decided to launch a very sharp campaign as the iconic British brand is facing immense challenges these days. Called Meet Leading Ladies, and shot by Annie Leibovitz, the campaign tries to explore what is Great Britain inheritance…

“We wanted to mark this moment with a confident statement about UK style. The British have a history of being creative and pioneering and these women represent just that.”

Steve Sharp, creative director at M&S


It’s an impressive crew which has been selected: Ellie Goulding, the rising pop icon, recently featured in the last InStyle (and declaring that she loves her ASOS bomber jacket, sic…), mixing simplicity and talent. The amazing Monica Ali, whose novel “Brick Lane” is a masterpiece of the daily life of my neighborhood.
The thing is that the aim of this new positioning is pretty blurry for me. Is the brand trying to tell us that they are definitely this British evanescence? We already sort of knew that, and it’s not because you display amazing women that you earn what they represent.
And Annie Leibovitz…as VQ says, it reminds us Vanity Fair, America. Group portraits dillude the featured personas…strange.
There’s a lack of narrative at this point. Why revealing so many characters in one single press release? Except if it’s explicitly done to generate some coverages in the September issues of Vogue and co, I think that at this point the brand is missing another meeting with us, customers. There’s no coherence in the other social channels. On Instagram, kittens and wines are the most evocative contents…no link with the new campaign! We don’t know what the new collection is about…and seriously, even if we recognize Leibovitz signature, would you buy these very granny-like clothes?
I am a bit disappointed at this stage but let’s keep posted. M&S has all the beautiful stories inside to rejuvenate and make us dream…a bit.
The full list of ambassadors:
  • Helen Mirren The multi-award winning actress is known for her groundbreaking film, television and theatre performances, her candid opinions and her innate, confident style.
  • Katie Piper Having rebuilt her life following an acid attack in 2008, model and now successful TV presenter, has also set up a foundation to support people with burns and other disfigurements.
  • Ellie Goulding The singer-songwriter and skilled instrumentalist has already, during her short career, released two albums, won a BRIT award and performed at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
  • Helen Allen A staff nurse and mother of two, Allen is the founder of the charity PEPAIDS (Peer Education Programme Against AIDS) and was named Nurse of the Year in 2011.
  • Nicola Adams Becoming the first female boxer to win an Olympic gold medal at last year’s London games, Adams has battled injury with steely determination to get where she is.
  • Monica Ali The Bangladeshi-born, British-raised writer’s debut novel, Brick Lane was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and adapted into a film. She has since published two further novels.
  • Darcey Bussell A celebrated former Royal Ballet principal ballerina, Bussell CBE, retired in 2007 to an eight-minute standing ovation. She writes childrens books and is a popular television personality.
  • Laura Mvula The Brit Award nominated singer-songwriter, also a director of the Lichfield Community Gospel Choir, was, just over a year ago working as a receptionist when she landed her first record deal.
  • Karen Elson A model, musician and mother of two, Karen Elson has been in the public eye since she was discovered aged 15 and has worked with the world’s greatest photographers.
  • Jasmine Whitbread As the CEO of Save the Children and former International Director at Oxfam, the mother of two is known for her leadership skills, working with teams in 120 countries.
  • Grace Coddington The former British model and long-time creative director for US Vogue remains a hugely influential and outspoken force in fashion. Her memoir, Grace, was published late last year.
  • Tracey Emin The award-winning artist, CBE and Professor of Drawing at the Royal Acadmeny of Art, is best known for as a leading figure in the Young British Artists YBA) movement, her emotionally revealing work and her forthright views.
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