Oh for those approachable smiles. Now this ad campaign has been swept aside and in its place, and the Daily Mail needs you to be brave now: "12 high-flying women who look like they could be attending a UN summit."
M&S is pretty well known for affordable smart clothing, worn over its pants. To decide to use a selection of high-flying women makes sense to me. When thinking my office wear could do with a smartening up I will go and cast an eye over the Per Una range before deciding 'nah, I will just iron more'. I aspire to reach the heights of success Helen Mirren, Jasmine Whitbread and Darcy Bussell have reached, and reached through hard work and determination.
However the Daily Mail has done a breakdown of the women chosen for this campaign and it approves of very few. Tracy Emin is too slutty and drunk to wear M&S. Le Freak Karen Elson is too divorced to model M&S. Monica Ali imagined Diana Princess of Wales faked her own death - enough said there. But champion boxer Nicola Adams - beautiful and won a Gold Medal at the Olympics, she's good for an M&S campaign all about fantastic women, no? NO! Why couldn't they get that lovely Victoria Pendleton in to model for them?
The aim of using these women, photographed in classic Annie Leibovitz style, is to rid the brand of their girl/woman next door image. Marketing Director Steven Sharp said of the campaign: "We want to be taken seriously." And, rather like any former Disney Mouseketeer, M&S knows to be taken seriously you need to sex it up a bit. And what is more sexed up than an Emin bed strewn with condoms?
Why couldn't they get that lovely Victoria Pendleton in to model for them?
I mean... yikes. Let's assume the M&S marketing offices have all social networking sites, Wikipedia and search engines blocked in their office or something. Maybe once someone had managed to get their smart phone to finally work the mood board was finished and a vote had already been taken and everyone is just sick of your negative attitude towards all the innovative ideas.
Perhaps I am being negative. We haven't seen the TV ad yet. Maybe M&S is about to get educational, because in 2005 (though the term dates from the 19th century) Beauboeuf-Lafontant defined Womanism as: "theoretical perspective focused on the experiences and knowledge bases of Black women [which] recognizes and interrogates the social realities of slavery, segregation, sexism, and economic exploitation this group has experienced during its history in the United States. Furthermore, womanism examines these realities and Black women's responses without viewing them as a variation on or derivation of Black male or White female behaviour and social circumstances."
This isn't womanism. This is M&S womanism. And frankly I cannot wait to see the TV ad.