Nearly two decades ago, Marks & Spencer dug deep into the crate of British rock classics and pulled out Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross, which it set to footage of a steaming chicken being sliced in slow motion and a fork splitting open an oozing chocolate sponge. The campaign established the ‘food porn’ phenomenon that has been ubiquitous in grocery marketing and on social media ever since.
It was a deft choice of song. The meditative, meandering 1969 instrumental was just so classy, so understated, so M&S. The supermarket’s latest call on ad soundtrack is anything but: a slightly ridiculous reworking of Status Quo hit Rockin’ All Over The World.
“Oh here we are at M&S and here we go. Remarksable value means the prices are low. Here we go, saving all over the store,” sings the band’s frontman Francis Rossi (a fan of the M&S Our Best Ever prawn sandwich, he claims in the press release) in the ad, as the Quo perform at M&S Purley Way store surrounded by staff and influencers miming along on cardboard guitars.
The concept apparently came from the shop floor, with M&S retail sales manager Jack Norbury submitting a request to CEO Stuart Machin for a song store teams could use on their TikTok accounts.
M&S and Status Quo song in stores
So why the mighty Quo? Like M&S, they are an incredibly well-loved British institution that have stood the test of time. But that’s where the similarities end. The retailer is perhaps hoping to capitalise on the band’s complete absence of pretension, and strict refusal to take themselves too seriously.
The supermarket has been working hard in recent years to dismantle the ‘for the few, not the many’ perception of its brand. There has been the encouragement of staff to post on social media, the value-focused TikTok campaigns (which have helped boost its ‘online visibility’ by 25% since last year, according to analysis by search marketing company Salience), and this week the doubling down on its ‘trusted value promise’ by cutting the price of 65 popular food lines and extending a separate price lock campaign.
Machin is this week set to write to customers promising “the best possible quality at the best possible price in the year ahead across food and clothing & home”.
It can’t afford not to shake those ‘too posh’ perceptions. Respondents to its own survey, expected to be published later this month, place value as their top priority in deciding where to shop; four in 10 say they would be consciously spending less; and the proportion feeling optimistic about money is falling.
M&S’ third-quarter trading up
The evidence suggests M&S’ efforts to change its public image are working. The retailer’s recent quarter three trading update revealed a 28% rise in sales of price-locked products. Bigger food baskets worth more than £30 were up 15% over the quarter.
The enlisting of hard-rocking everymen Status Quo will doubtless help convince more people to consider shopping at M&S for… whatever they want.
NB This is not, by the way, Status Quo’s first supermarket jingle rodeo. In 2012 the band reworked their 1975 hit Down Down for Australian supermarket Coles. “Down, down, prices are down. When you need a helping hand. Count on the savings of that Coles big red hand,” the band sang, playing guitars in the shape of the supermarket’s big red hand discount label. The campaign ran for several years.