Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by M&S Company Archive.

This resource is part of the M&S Birth of a Brand suite inspired by the large collection of advertising images and film in the M&S Company Archive based at Leeds University. The material can be used in the Curriculum areas shown below, and would also be useful for any Creative and Media students looking at advertising in general.
You can also download an M&S Advertising and Branding timeline, which lists key dates and events in the Company's history and various advertising campaigns up to present day.

Curriculum Links

  • KS2 Design & Technology
    - as a natural extension to a packaging design topic, where children create adverts to promote their products
    - how technology has influenced advertising
  • KS2 ICT - children using multimedia to plan, write and create their own adverts
  • KS3 Art & Design/Graphic Design
  • KS 4 Business

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of different advertising techniques and M&S' advertising and branding development over a 100 year period
  • Skills of analysing the format and structure of advertisements, and comparing adverts of the past with those of today
  • Understanding that media messages and products are composed of a series of separate elements
Below are suggestions on how the material in this resource can be used in the classroom or given to students as homework assignments or extension activities. The related links at the bottom of the page lead to further material that will support this topic.

Discussion and Activity Ideas

KS2 & 3 Art & Design | Graphic Design

  • Advertising is everywhere, not just in magazines and posters like the images in this resource. Think of as many different forms of media advertising as you can; posters, TV, carrier bags, social media  etc. 
  • Choose one example of a specific form of advertising (posters, TV etc) and identify all the different ways the Company applies its branding (e.g. colours, font etc)
  • Think about the different audiences for three different forms of advertising.  For each one think about: who are companies trying to reach? How are the audiences different, and how are they the same?  How does the company adapt it's use of advertising to the different audiences and forms of advertising.
  • Choose one of the old M&S adverts from the image gallery and design your own advert for the same product, but in 2013 (look in some magazines to get an idea of the different styles of advertising used today).
  • Staff magazines are a form of internal advertising aimed at a company's employees. Look at how the style of the M&S employee magazine has changed over time, then design a retro style for your school magazine.  

    Create a mock-up of the front page and include the following features: masthead, headlines, dateline, lead story, photos, captions and a pointer (see Resources section for supporting links)

  • Look at the M&S 1940s recruitment poster - what message is it trying to convey and how does it achieve this? Design your own poster promoting careers with a real or fictitious company, aimed at young people leaving school or college and looking for a job. Try to keep the wording down to a minimum like the M&S example, while still getting your main message across.

KS4  Business

  • What do you think makes a good advert? 
  • Find out what process a client such as M&S will go through with an advertising agency to create something like the 'Simply Food' poster advert above (the article ' What do ad agencies do?' in Resources: Supporting Links should help).
  • Do some research into what sort of  careers are available in the advertising sector and what the different job roles entail (the websites in Supporting Links should give you a head start).
  • Use this resource and our other related resources to research how the M&S brand has developed over the last century. How powerful do you think branding is in persuading customers to buy certain products or services? Has this changed since 1884 and if so, how?
  • Compare and contrast early branding and advertising techniques with more modern techniques (for example, online advertising)


Branding - the idea or image of a specific product or service that consumers (customers and shoppers) connect with
Fictitious - imaginary, made up, not real
Recruitment - the process of attracting, screening, selecting, and taking on (employing) a qualified person for a job
Retro - style that refers to fashions or design trends from the past
Sector - an area of the economy in which businesses share the same or a related product or service
Technique - a method of achieving a desired aim or outcome