Sometimes when people aren't making enough money they panic and spend more money trying to get it right. Marketing is big business all about buzzwords like 'branding' 'consumer' and 'demographic.'
Sometimes these campaigns totally work like the drum playing gorilla or R Whites Lemonade, which I still sing occasionally to myself whilst tip-toeing about, but other times the "consumer" is left wanting to throw things at the TV. A perfect example is when I saw Marks and Spencers boss, Steve Rowe, last night talking about 'Mrs M&S.' If you weren't present for your school English lesson on personification then you may have been left wondering if Marks and Sparks were only selling to one individual now or if Steve Rowe was talking about his wife. But no, apparently Mrs M&S is every woman, the core 50 year old who is loyal to the store. Well, which offended part of womanhood do we discuss first? The 50 year old (that's Halle Berry and Helena Bonham Carter by the way) who quite likes to still wear trendy things? The women who buy clothes already from the store and now feel like they may be dowdy? The women on each side of this age bracket who may still want to shop there?
Mrs M&S started the day as the 50 year old British woman but by the time I caught it on the News at 10 Mr Rowe was saying it was inclusive of every woman from a mid thirties working mum to a woman in her 80s. I mean who sat round that table (for how long and for how much?) and was struck by a lightning bolt that brandishing all the women in the UK under the same name was a good idea?
To coin a 90s phrase as a 'singleton' I feel rather alienated. Where can the Bridget Jones of 2016 go to buy her big knickers, I'm sure she went to Marks and Sparks like a her mum taught her to but now why would a single woman want to be reminded of her lack of Mrs in her name when buying a bra? Not me that's for sure, life's hard enough when you're alone without M&S making a dig at you. If we're going to be pedantic about titles that only leaves me with 'Miss' Selfridge and I know that the current crop tops in there do not suit me! Oooo if they were still making Sex and the City, there'd be an entire episode and column on this.
I go to M&S for two reason and I'm not yet 50. 1- because touring life as an actor is fuelled by M&S Fuller for Longer range and flapjack tubs and 2- because my Nannie and Mum used to shop there and like all human beings I learnt by example. It's the place of first bra fittings, dads waiting on plastic chairs in over-heated stores and being dragged around as a child so the grown ups can have a catch up. But you learn from watching and suddenly you're in there yourself getting some pants and oooo look at the shoes they're similar-ish to the ones in Office and a hell of a lot more comfortable and BAM! You're in your 30s and love M&S.
Each time Mr Rowe said Mrs M&S to the BBC reporter last night he looked as convinced as we are about this concept. He was dead behind the eyes and if there's one thing that being an actress has taught me is that the eyes don't lie. I know that it's a bit 'damned if you do and damned if you don't' but my advice to Marks and Sparks (my Nannie's name for the store) is - don't. Do what you know, M&S - classic pieces, the old favourites and great picnic food; don't try to be every woman because I have news for you, we're all different (but we do all need pants that wash well and hide a multitude of sins) so don't forget about us. Maybe a mother/daughter campaign might be better? Generations of women going where their grans went..... you're welcome Mr Rowe for that Xmas ad idea......I'll only need 12.5% commission for that inspirational nugget!