Why 27,586 people probably love Marks and Spencer a little bit more.

For a while now I’ve been trying to avoid Twitter like the plague. Not because it offends me in any way but purely just to make a point, to myself, that I’m not the kind of person to be dragged along by the bandwagon, mile after mile, knees furiously grazing, clothes ripping on the gravelly floor and the air filled with my cries of ‘but it’s cooooooool! Everyone is dooooing iiiiiiiiiit!’

But alas, a certain gentleman has relentlessly captured my twittention (YES!), and that gentleman is Calvin Harris. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, he’s a musician, had a few big hits in the UK including ‘Acceptable in the 80s’ which was my ringtone for a while and he recently released a single with Dizzee Rascal. For those of you who are unfamiliar of the work of Dizzee Rascal we could be here all day…


Calvin Harris has 27,586 followers, is incredibly funny and likes his food. He also talks about M&S the WHOLE time, amongst other brands (simply because he loves food so much). In fact, just yesterday he tweeted: “Sainsbury’s chicken + pasta salad is very rubbery I’m having a complete nightmare by the way”. I actually started following him because a friend of mine said ‘you should follow Calvin Harris, he’s really funny and he loves Marks and Spencer’. So I did, and over the past few weeks and have been entertained by his many musings, regularly aimed at one of Britain’s best loved food retailers…


“DOES THE M&S 1P SALE INCLUDE FOOD? IF SO DON’T EXPECT TO HEAR FROM ME FOR THE REST OF THE DAY, POSSIBLY MORE”


“JUST HAD NAUGHTY MIDNIGHT SNACK OF M&S 3 BEAN SALAD, SOME CHICKEN, SOME SMALL TOMATOES AND ASSORTED SALAD-Y LEAVES. IT WAS FUCKING UNREAL”


“Devastated about packaging changes in M+S food especially the desserts which are now floral designs in baby pink and blue all pastel colours……Am I no longer their target market? Are desserts now exclusively for women and children?! Is there nothing manly about buying a choux bun?!”

“I DON’T REMEMBER M+S CHEESE TASTERS BEING THIS ORANGE”

“RIBENA TASTES BETTER OUT OF A CARTON THAN A BOTTLE THIS IS A PROVEN FACT DO NOT ARGUE IF YOU DISAGREE YOU ARE WRONG”

Calvin HarrisObviously Harris hasn’t been paid for any of this activity or influenced by the brand in any way, he’s just a fan and this activity is simply wonderful, organic word of mouth. But because he’s a fan, now I’m even more of a fan, and I walked an extra ten minutes yesterday to go to an M&S Food Hall as opposed to my local Tesco, probably because Calvin Harris inadvertently told me to, and for some reason I really fancied a 3 bean salad.


Online traditionally hasn’t been a great mixing ground for celebrities and brands, with ad campaigns involving the rich, famous and iconic often being confined to the realms of big budget TV and print ads (or small budget ones, namely anything involving Leslie Ash). But maybe now is THE time for the digital celebrity endorsement, and even better – social celebrity endorsement, the ultimate fickle product placement, instantly broadcast to many, more authentic and significantly cheaper than a six sheet poster featuring David Beckham in small pants.


But it’s not just these subtle brand mentions, via our most-loved celebs that can grow brand affinity, it’s the way in which brands can react to it that can make all the difference. Cadbury and HSBC aside (there’s plenty more case studies out there!) a number of brands are monitoring online conversations or announcements and are responding in wonderful ways – including Cafe Nero which is a story I’ll save for another post later this week. But if M&S wanted to really get with the diggerati, they’d be actively ‘listening’, and then acting if they really want to amplify that word of mouth… maybe start sending Calvin Harris free food, offer him a role in product development, and what the hell, even create a brand new sandwich called ‘The Calvin’ and enjoy even more great coverage from being associated with this rapidly rising UK star. Sometimes, you should just milk it! Not everything online has to be commercial, but it’s a lot more fun (for us) when it is. And if it’s good, consumers don’t mind at all.


In my opinion every brand should have people dedicated to monitoring this type of online commentary, and it’s disappointing that not everybody does. Or if they do, they’re certainly not doing a whole host about the internet chatter, particularly when it’s negative. Not only should you be listening and responding, but you should also be changing things, as a result of what real people (famous or ‘civilian’) are saying about you… However, the fact remains is that if a famous person makes a statement about your brand, more people are likely to hear it and with social networking easy enough for even the simplest of celebs to use, this won’t be a voice amplifier that they’ll be willing to give up any time soon. So Sainsbury’s – maybe think about making your pasta salad less rubbery, and Ribena – it’s a fair point, the cartons do taste better than the bottles. Not every status update or blog post will be relevant, but sometimes it makes sense to let people know you’ve heard them. And by the way, based on some extensive Twesearch (maybe that doesn’t work so well) Miley Cyrus likes Macdonalds milkshakes, in the past few days Katy Perry has moaned about T-mobile and Dita Vin Teese is currently using Twitter to heavily promote Cointreau.



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    There’s an interesting parallel here with other musicians who promoted products without being paid – then went on to pick up huge amounts of cash when the brands learned about the endorsement. The most famous being Run DMC tune My Adidas – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrqJrRvng8w

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    Has Calvin told you to do anything else? Should we call someone. Good post btw. Brands should be monitoring, but it is the interaction that i think it is important. it is taking the next step. Its what makes social media more than simply PR.

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    I think i’d draw the line at jumping off a cliff, but i’d do pretty much anything else he told me to!

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    @marksandspencer is both monitoring and actively tweeting/engaging our community on both Facebook and Twitter. We are following Calvin too!