Marks & Spencer's 'food porn' ads return, with a self-knowing twist

Campaign by Grey revisits the retailer's well-known sultry descriptions of dishes

Published On
Apr 04, 2019

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British retailer Marks & Spencer was famous in the 2000s for its "food porn" style of advertising, in which husky-voiced actress Dervla Kirwan described its products in come-hither tones accompanying close ups of delicious-looking foodstuffs.

Now, the company is returning to that much-parodied semi-erotic style after 12 years in a new campaign by Grey London -- but with a self-knowing twist. The new campaign sees ordinary people getting carried away describing their M&S meals in the same sultry manner, with a healthy dose of humor.

A train station announcer stands on a platform staring at an M&S billboard and going into a rhapsody over its "succulent Scottish salmon," a TV store salesman gets sidetracked by an ad for M&S trifle; a middle aged woman walking her dogs in the rain fantasizes about taking her M&S caulifower cheese out of the oven in a warm kitchen. There's also a guy lusting after his Detroit pizza and the ad ends with a man serving his partner an M&S meal describing it in the full style of the campaign: "This is not JUST food, this is M&S food," followed by a giggle. 

The ad debuted on Twitter, M&S having teased it the day before by posting its famous 2004 ad for chocolate pudding. Twitter users responded enthusiastically to the campaign's return. “We've missed this. Glad it's back,” tweeted one user.

It's an evolution in strategy for Grey, whose most recent Christmas food advertising for M&S focused on ordinary people describing their favorite festive foodstuffs but in a more down-to-earth manner--using terms like "game-changer" and "absolutely gorgeous."