Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Marketing Through Varied Media

In the 1950s M&S embraced new ways of advertising to customers. The village of Iffley in Oxfordshire was one of the many locations that hosted an M&S fashion show during this decade. In the picture below you'll see that many of the women present are wearing hats for this event, not something that would be common today.

Photo of Iffley Village Fashion Show  1950s
Iffley Village Fashion Show 1950s

An advert in Woman magazine shows 'New Look' dresses and skirts inspired by the designs of Dior, and reflects the styles of 1958. It was one of the first full-colour spreads that M&S placed in a women's magazine.  

In 1959 M&S started holding charity fashion shows – these continued until the 1980s and drew large crowds. The shows raised lots of money for charity, promoted the brand and encouraged people to buy items from new collections. A headline for this article about a fashion show in Edinburgh says - Reached New Audiences. One of the things marketing people try to do today is to reach new audiences!

St Michael News Article 1959 M&S charity fashion show
St Michael News Article 1959

M&S film adverts appeared in cinemas for the first time in the 1950s. Featuring dance troupes and elaborate sets, and lasting for several minutes (a long time in advertising!), the adverts focused on innovative fabrics and the new, easy-care properties of clothing.  An M&S film called Carefree Summer won second place at the 12th International Advertising Film Festival at Cannes in 1965 (see Video in Resources)

Still from M&S Film 1965
Still from M&S Film 1965