Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders star in M&S Food's Christmas spot

French returns as the Christmas fairy and brings Saunders, aka Duckie the dog toy, to life.

Marks & Spencer has turned to Dawn French once again for its festive food campaign and this time the Christmas fairy is joined by Jennifer Saunders.

The comedy duo have been reunited as Saunders voices the fairy’s new sidekick, Duckie, a tatty but well-loved dog chew toy.

The first of eight ads, set to run from today (2 November), opens with the French-inspired fairy perched on top of a Christmas tree. She announces that she’s looking to find a friend and brings Duckie to life.

The pair soon discover the variety of food and drink available at M&S this Christmas, including a Christmas pudding wreath, turkey sandwiches and a selection of spirits.

The campaign was created in-house and media planning and buying was handled by Mindshare.

Speaking at an event launching the M&S Christmas ad, Robbie Black, head of marketing for M&S Food, said: “Unsurprisingly, our customers are telling us that it's been a really tough year. But they're also telling us that food is going to be at the heart of everything that they do this year too.

“So they want something that's going to be magical, festive, makes them smile, but importantly, really shows our amazing food off as well.”

The first ad will premiere on TV during ITV’s This Morning at 11.40am with a new instalment airing every week until New Year’s Eve.

The ad is also running across M&S social channels, where Fairy and Duckie will reply to followers’ comments throughout the day.

To support the ad campaign, M&S has partnered Meta to create an augmented-reality game starring Fairy and Duckie, which will launch across Facebook and Instagram this week.

“This Christmas we know families want a cosy but special get together at home,” Sharry Cramond, director of marketing and hospitality at M&S Food, said. “Our ad brings to life what we have to offer – the perfect menu to deliver that warm, fuzzy, festive feeling.”

She added: “We know value is front of mind for families and our food range is about offering the best possible quality at the best possible price – from essentials to showstoppers – alongside that all-important dose of M&S Christmas magic.

“We couldn’t resist reuniting two British icons in Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders with the British icon that is M&S. It’s a match made in heaven as they lend their voices to the glamorous Fairy and adorable Duckie and it’s fantastic to have them on board. I predict Wylie the dog will go on to be a huge star.”

The campaign is understood to have been created in-house. M&S Food set up an in-house agency and moved formerly retained shop Grey London to a project relationship last year.

French made her first appearance as the M&S fairy last year when she brought Percy Pig, voiced by actor Tom Holland, to life. The spot, which was created by Grey London, earned a Campaign Pick of the Week.

French said: “I had the time of my life lending my voice to the Fairy that brought Percy Pig to life last year. I was so excited that M&S wanted to bring her back for more adventures and discover more of that amazing food… and, this time with a trusty new sidekick."

Saunders added: “When the call came in asking me to be in the M&S Christmas ad, I didn’t have to think about it. And to bring the team back together for it? It was a Christmas must.

"I mean M&S Food just is Christmas. And, I’m so thrilled to be the voice of the tatty and downtrodden, yet very lovable, Duckie.”

M&S’ Family Matters Index report, which is based on interviews with more than 5,000 UK adults, found that 67% were determined to make the most of Christmas despite rising cost of living concerns.

Around two-thirds were set to celebrate at home with family and friends, with 80% ranking food and drink in their top three priorities.

The Christmas campaign follows M&S Food’s “Remarksable” meal planner, which was fronted by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge with the goal to help families cook quality meals at affordable prices.

As part of the run-up to Christmas, M&S will introduce a price lock on more than 100 products until the end of the year.

This article first appeared in Campaign.

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