January marked the end of Future Publishing and M&S’s four-month campaign titled, ‘Make a Style Statement.’ Running since September 2022, the campaign built on the retailer’s already high brand awareness with a strategic approach to raising the profile, and style credentials, of its Home range and specifically three core ranges – ‘Fired Earth collaboration’, ‘Cosy’, and ‘Christmas’.
It delivered impressive results month-on-month which is why Creativepool wanted to find out more about how Make a Style Statement came to be. We caught up with Sarah Hayman, Head of Commercial Partnerships at Future, to learn more.
What was the brief?
M&S needed to raise the profile of its three core Home ranges – ‘Fired Earth collaboration’, ‘Cosy’, and ‘Christmas.’ By making use of both Future’s experienced editorial approach and style-seeking interior-loving audience, M&S was able to seamlessly tap into a multi-channel partnership opportunity focused on inspiring modern, engaged readers to adopt these ranges.
How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?
The initial brainstorming phase was positive. We quickly outlined how Future could help M&S connect with our network of high-interest, primed-to-purchase readers through titles such as Homes & Gardens, Woman & Home and Marie Claire.
This partnership stands out with innovative media firsts including a dramatic six-page roll fold cover shoot for the Christmas range, influencer talent, interactive articles, as well as video and social media content. It was a very collaborative process between Future, Mindshare and the M&S client when it came to refining the pitch and the final plan.
What was the process behind ideating the concept?
The process involved several ideation and insight sessions alongside dedicated time for incubation. We worked closely with our insights team to look at interior trends and consumer behaviours alongside running bespoke research with our LENS panel.
Brainstorms then utilised these findings alongside more “human truth” insights to come up with our approach. Brainstorms involved members from across the business including editors from our Homes and Lifestyle portfolio, and the writers and designers from our Creative Solutions team.
What was the production process like?
Initially, we began with our internal creative team, moodboarding and working with M&S Home to create a strong campaign that would work across the selected brands in our portfolio. Once the idea had been agreed by all stakeholders we began to reach out to our creative production team.
This required quite a bit of research as the style of the photographer and stylist had to work for everyone involved, and this is where we came across Hannah Franklin. Hannah had worked on many of our home brands in the past and knew exactly what was needed for each ‘look’.
When it came to finding our photographer, we found Felix, an emerging talent in the interior photography world whose style fit exactly what we needed. We decided to keep the same crew for both the Christmas and Cosy shoots as it allowed us to create consistency.
For the Christmas productions we used editorial experts as the ‘face’ of the videos. This gave each brand a knowledgeable presenter who was able to speak to specific audiences and offer the necessary styling tips.
For the Cosy content these well-known faces encouraged reader connections. This allowed us to reach a wider audience and offer genuine advice from experts, inspiring everyone from interior design novices to seasoned designers. .
What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?
Logistically, it was finding the right location for the final set of content. We had to find somewhere to create five different looks and accommodate the crew and talent. Luckily our stylist Hannah Franklin recommended a location in Kent – 6ixteen Country House – which was large enough and varied enough to create what we needed for each brand.
This led to the problem of transporting all crew, props and talent for the week, but, with the help of on-location accommodation, local Airbnb stays and fantastic catering (Seasons Wild and Free) we were able to make sure the production ran smoothly.
What kit/tools/software were used to create the project?
To create an engaging and successful campaign for M&S, we wanted to utilise a combination of mediums. To be more specific, we combined curated editorial content and the use of social media platforms to drive strong engagement.
For example, Pinterest alone enabled the campaign to reach over a million additional users, which as a result delivered 162% of the KPI. Similarly, our use of Instazines throughout the campaign boosted our engagement rate to more than 10x higher than the predicted benchmark – equating to 75,000 engagements.
We also dedicated a lot of our resources to create effective video content that succeeded in delivering over two million views, which was 336,000 views over KPI.
What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?
Spending a small fortune on a large amount of candles at a local family run convenience shop. Emptying out every box they had of every shape and sized candle. We left them with a big smile on their faces and shelves to fill.
What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?
The project highlights the ability of premium publishers with rich first-party data such as Future’s, to drive stand-out results for leading brands, with a clear ROI by bringing their products to life for highly-engaged audiences.
The project showcases Future’s ability to successfully generate even further awareness of a well-known brand and enabled M&S to expand its outreach for their highly engaging Home ranges.
The creative and innovative media firsts, including Future’s first bespoke magazine cover shoot, also added to the value of the collaboration to create a bold marketing moment in traditional media.
How long did it take from inception to delivery?
We were originally briefed at the beginning of July with the partnership signed off in August and the first assets live mid September.
What do you hope it achieves for the brand?
For M&S, we hope that the success of this campaign highlights the continued value of our titles to access and engage brands’ key audiences alongside highly-relevant content.
For us at Future, we hope that this advantageous partnership works to showcase our position as a premium publisher, with experience, connections and quality, alongside the ability to bring visions to life - no matter how big the brand or how big the concept.
Credit list for the work?
Sarah Hayman - Head of Commercial Partnerships
Daniel Gould - Producer
Eve Scholes - Project Manager
Michelle Edwards - Art Director
Friyan Mehta - Designer
Leonie Eastwood - Editor
Matt Gibbs - Video production manager
Hannah Franklin - Stylist
Felix Speller - Photographer
Elizabeth Herridge - Director