This is not just advertising, this is Your M&S advertising

Megan Thompson

 Jonathan Neil and Sarah Threadgould
Marks & Spencer

Sandra Lema Trillo
Walker Media

This is the story of how communications changed the public face of a very public company. M&S is a national institution and speculating on its fortunes is a national pastime.

Back in April 2004, things were looking down at M&S. Consecutive sales declines and continual negative PR had led to a total loss of confidence in the brand. Two years on, and M&S smashed City expectations by announcing Q4 sales growth of 9.1% against a backdrop of total March 2006 UK high-street sales down 1.4% on the year.

This article explores the role that communications have played in that turnaround. We will show how, as one of the fastest levers new management could pull, communications first acted as a public declaration of corporate intent. We will then show how, as product started to improve, communications changed the lens through which the public (including journalists and City analysts) viewed the product, by restoring confidence in the M&S brand.