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Marks & Spencer wins Christmas with Mrs Claus

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Marks and Spencer (M&S) is a British retailer with a rich heritage in bringing real magic to Christmas for its customers. Its core customer is a strong, stylish family woman who embraces the challenge that Christmas brings around. For her, the festive season and all it brings is not a chore but an opportunity to indulge in her love of gifting and entertaining, and making those close to her feel loved. She is the driving force behind making Christmas special and is drawn to brands who help her in her mission to go the extra mile to make it extra special. 

Unfortunately, 21st century Christmas retail marketing was failing to represent or engage her in an aspirational and relevant way.  

Advertising largely represented her as the embattled wife slaving away preparing Christmas dinner, or the doting wife receiving diamonds from her husband, and communications targeting her had become less about thoughtfulness and more about value – cheap groceries and bargain priced toys. 

The truth is that women run Christmas, but it was still a man, Santa Claus, who was the most celebrated, simply for flying around the world delivering Christmas magic in 24 hours.  


With almost half of British women feeling that there is a lack of strong female role models, Mindshare saw an opportunity for M&S to reconnect with its lost audience through a new, relatable, modern female icon.  

Someone who could represent and inspire her, be by her side throughout Christmas providing her with thoughtful gifting and entertaining inspiration and overall, understand what mattered to her the most - creating a Christmas with love. 

So it created Mrs Claus - a new Christmas icon fit for the 21st Century woman, who would champion and represent the values and personality of M&S customers - considerate, caring, strong, sassy, and above all, the real heart and soul behind making Christmas special. 

It would put Mrs Claus at the heart of the M&S Christmas campaign strategy, using every media touchpoint at the agency's disposal to bring her character to life, to inspire and connect with customers, and deliver against M&S's promise of creating 'Christmas with Love'.  

Informed by a range of first, second and third party data sources, Mindshare would get a rich understanding of the key decision journeys and purchase moments in M&S shoppers Christmas planning. It would then designed an agile communications plan that would ensure Mrs Claus was engaging with customers in the right time and place, with the right inspiration and relevant product messaging. 

It would use media that would enable consumers to connect and converse directly with Mrs Claus and dynamic formats that would enable the brand to provide thoughtful gifting and entertaining inspiration, showcasing all the ways that M&S could help to make Christmas special.  

Crucially, Mindshare would use Mrs Claus to intrigue and draw consumers back into M&S, where brilliant products and customer service would then convert them to purchase.  


To make Mrs Claus instantly famous the agency partnered with Channel 4 to give her the prestigious role of ‘officially launching Christmas’ on the channel – something that had never been done by a Christmas advertiser before. 

In the week prior to launch, a series of C4/M&S co-branded teaser spots built intrigue for Mrs Claus’s arrival. To introduce her to the nation, Mindshare created a special three minute ad-break takeover including a specially created spot that saw her arrive at C4's offices to help a raft of loved TV talent officially launch the Christmas season on the channel.   

This was supported by a fully optimised paid social campaign to maximise online views of the ad break. 

At the same time, and ongoing across the season, Mrs Claus took over M&S’s Twitter handle so she could converse and dispense personalised inspiration directly to the thousands of consumers talking about her. In her first three hours live she responded to over 250 individuals with a unique pieces of content each time. 

In collaboration with Twitter, Mindshare also created a Mrs Claus custom emoji, to ensure she was visible whenever someone used the official campaign hashtag #LoveMrsClaus. 

An always on social listening plan ensured it could respond to relevant audience signals with relevant Mrs Claus inspiration and using first party M&S customer data it could retarget customers with complimentary products to those we knew they had purchased, all positioned as a personal recommendation from Mrs Claus.    

On M& and in-stores, select products were given exclusive 'Mrs Claus recommends' status, including her own iconic red dress, and staff were empowered to offer Mrs Claus spot rewards to the most loyal customers.  


The campaign impact was significant, both culturally and commercially. 

In the evening the agency introduced Mrs Claus to the nation, the buzz around her was instantaneous.  There were an average 158 tweets per minute featuring the #LoveMrsClaus hashtag, trending only second to the England/Scotland game, with 94% positivity towards the new Christmas icon.  

Overall social share of voice went up 250% YOY. 

The Mrs Claus film received over 80 million views online (65 million unpaid) and the original soundtrack reached #1 on the iTunes Classical chart on launch weekend. 

PR coverage was significant, both in the UK and globally with Mrs Claus hailed as the best Christmas campaign of 2016 by the Evening Standard, Sun, Daily Mail, Express and Metro. The Telegraph declared that ‘In a bid to help 2016 come to a less crashing end for women, M&S have saved the day with their Christmas offering’. 

The Post Office even reported a sharp increase in letters addressed to Mrs Claus!  

Footfall increased by 1.5% YOY and traffic to the M&S website increased by 14%. 

As a result, M&S increased it's quarterly sales for the first time in six years and deliver its best overall Christmas since 2013 with a 5.9% increase in sales YOY. 

Not least helped by over 6,000 sales of Mrs Claus iconic red dress, with some stores selling out. 

Customers had positively reappraised the brand too, with an 2+ rise in NPS scores. 

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Marks & Spencer
United Kingdom
November - December 2016
Media Channel:
  • FMAs winner
  • FMAs shortlisted

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