Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by M&S Company Archive.


Aim of the resource

This resource is part of a 'Birth of a Brand' theme intended to provide a broad picture of the development of M&S marketing, using selected items from the M&S Company Archive's collection of images. The overall aim of the Birth of a Brand related resources is to show changes in marketing throughout the history of the company, and how this links to social history and world events. This resource looks at archive fashion photos and film from the 1950s and 1960s.

Download the M&S Birth of a Brand timeline.


Curriculum Links

  • KS4 Business
  • KS3 Literacy: creative writing, writing for an audience.

Learning Objectives

  • To gain knowledge about the way fashion was promoted in the past
  • To understand the importance of advertising to promote your business
  • To gain skills in recognising archive and contemporary material

Discussion and Activity Ideas

KS3 Literacy
  • Project yourself into the future and write a storyabout what shopping will be like in 10 years time. Think about:
    • whether there will still be shops and markets
    • how different our towns will be
    • what effect might different forms of transporthave on the environment
    • how these changes will have affected young people and family life
KS4 Business
  • In the 1950s it was new for companies to make films like this one called Carefree Summer. Until then print advertising was the most common way of promoting your product. How many different forms of 'print' advertising can you think of? This resource about M&S Advertising might help.
  • What other methods of advertising do companies use today to promote their products or services? 
  • Online shopping is now an important part of the retail trade. What are the advantages and the disadvantages of this for:
    • the customer
    • the retailer
    • society and communities 
  • M&S has evolved as a business over time. How have companies like M&S diversified? What other services do they now provide and why?  
  • Write a press release that promotes the 1965 M&S film Carefree Summer, as if it is part of film festival featuring archive advertising. Here is a press release template to get you started.  
  • Read the transcript of an article in M&S News for 1959 about fashion shows (see Resources). Identify words, phrases or names that seem old-fashioned. Write a report of these fashion shows in language you would use today. 

  • Find the M&S adverts in the Timeline on the Marks in Time website (1950s onwards). In what ways do the adverts change from decade to decade?
  • How many films can you think of that are about fashion or designers? Create a 'storyboard' for a film advert about a new M&S collection.


Society - a group of people living in the same place or sharing the same beliefs
Retailer - someone who sells things
Diversify - reducing risk by expanding into different areas (of business)
Storyboard - a way of outlining a story simply through pictures
Contemporary - about something now, not in the past