Praise for M&S’s PR – and why brand likeability matters

Praise for M&S’s PR – and why brand likeability matters

Phil Szomszor

Phil Szomszor

Contrary to popular opinion PR practitioners are not always spawn of the devil spin masters or air-headed bimbos, a la Siobhan Sharpe from Twenty Twelve. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that it’s refreshing to see a brand doing ‘the right thing’ and getting the communications right. I’m referring, of course, to M&S’s decision to invite Seb White, a boy with Down’s Syndrome, to be a model.

Rather than being a horribly manipulative exercise by M&S to tap into the post-Paralympics zeitgeist, it happened organically. Seb’s mum Caroline posted on M&S’s Facebook page asking why the company’s adverts didn’t have a bit more diversity. After getting tons of Likes and messages of support, Seb was invited to model for M&S’s Christmas magazine.

[caption id="attachment_5111" align="alignnone" width="585"]Seb White M&S model "Say hello to Seb White" - Source: M&S[/caption]

M&S has rightly been praised for the move. Retailers should sit up and take notice. In a week, where Waitrose’s Twitter campaign “#Waitrosereasons” back-fired, it highlights the importance of authenticity and likeability in modern marketing communications.

Yes, the important word there is ‘likeable’. I’m currently reading Rohit Bhargava’s excellent book, Likeonomics (plug: review on my personal blog coming soon) and the M&S really strikes home as being an excellent example of why a brand’s likability is so important today.

The main point that Likeonomics makes is that more likeable people and companies are more successful. OK, risk of sarcastic award for stating the obvious there, but Likeonomics explores the reasons why likability matters.

Likeonomics Book Cover - Version 3

One of Bhargava’s arguments is that Marketing is now the bad guy. Essentially, there’s a believability crisis caused by decades of corporate speak and consumer protection, which has back-fired to such an extent that people are intrinsically wary of what they’re told. Combine this with the advent of social media and brands are now constantly on the back-foot.

Bhargarva argues that to become believable - brands need to earn trust and part of this is genuine engagement with customers. M&S has done this here in spades and overcome anti-corporate sentiment. Yes, the timing was fortuitous, but M&S can be praised for responding via social media in the right way, following up properly and not making a hash of communicating it.

I’ll be writing more about Likeonomics and why it’s relevant to the PR industry in future blog-posts, but if you want to get ahead of me, why not buy the book!

Share this story:

Read more from the blog

Comms planning

What can 'The Rise and Fall of Abercrombie & Fitch' teach us about managing reputations?

Lucas Jackson analyses Netflix's latest documentary on Abercrombie and Fitch, discussing its impact on reputation. ...Read more

Lucas Jackson
Lucas Jackson
Tech News

April showers bring May flowers in the form of exciting tech innovation

May has brought a range of innovation across the tech sector, from AI to VR and more. ...Read more

Megan Hogg
Megan Hogg
Claire Walker

A virtual playground: How can VR tools benefit your comms efforts?

As VR adoption increases, the technology is transforming both the world of work and our personal lives. How can comms professionals leverage VR for campaigns? ...Read more

Claire Walker
Claire Walker

Add a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Is it time to shape your reputation?

We operate in London, Paris and Munich, and have a network of like-minded partners across the globe.

Get in touch

Sign up to Spark, our newsletter

Receive thought pieces from our leadership team, views on the news, tool of the month and light relief for comms folk

You can unsubscribe at any time, please read our privacy policy for more information