Trampolining Onions, Exploding Strawberries and Super-Sexy Puddings: The Secrets Behind Marks & Spencer’s New Food Campaign

It’s not just a lemon, it’s a Wayne Sleep lemon..The Secrets Behind Marks & Spencer's New Food Campaign


by Lucy Dunn |
Updated on

Ten years ago (we know, TEN!) M&S introduced a series of food ads and the words ‘This Is Not Just A’ became engrained in the public consciousness and parodied the world over. But it wasn’t until 2005 when M&S unleashed their outrageously-sinful melt in the middle chocolate puddings that all hell broke loose. Together with a sultry voiceover from actress Dervla Kirwan, the nation salviated. This was Not Just Food… It Was M&S Food Porn. Sales rocketed and we all resisted the urge to lick the TV.

And now M&S have gone and done it again, with a new ad (oozing chocolate included) that has all the signs of becoming just as famous as it's predecessor. Not least because the music - Rather Be by Clean Bandit - is super catchy.


But it's the food - oh the foooood - that's the real star of the show. Dancing lemons, trampolining onions and gymnastic spring rolls dance and light up the screen in an oscar-worthy performance to rival Angelina Jolie. And it seems to be having the same effect on sales, with the jaffa sphere chocolate mousse selling out in days. ‘Before we started on this path we did a lot of research and talked to our customers. Unlike supermarkets, which you have to go to out of necessity, M&S is a place shoppers can enjoy shopping at,’ Nathan Ansell, Head of Brand and Marketing for M&S Food, told us. 'We stock all our own lines, pride ourselves on innovation and creativity and – with our new promise of 100 new lines every month - you’ll always find something new and different.’

And we think the ad has done its job very well because it does one thing: it makes you want to go in the kitchen and cook. The upbeat vibe and strapline ‘Adventures in Food’ is not only inspiring, but after watching it you come away with an underlying subliminal message: Go have a go at cooking and have a play. If you stuff it up, who cares - it will still taste great and you will have had fun doing it.

It also makes you ask yourself: ‘How did they make the food do that?’

‘Basically we spotted a couple of film guys doing something completely unique and took them on because they’re crazy about food, and know how to make it look amazing,’ explained creative director Chris Hodgkiss who, along with Pip Bishop, masterminded these new ads. The shoot took a year to plan and a week in a darkened studio to shoot. The pair are keen to stress they didn’t use any sneaky tricks such as spraying fruit with deodorant or painting food with glycerine that we’ve heard some food stylists get up to. Chris told us; ‘Everything we did on the shoot was unbelievably low-fi. We used real M&S food and there was nothing computer-generated.’ Pip adds: ‘We wanted to create 2014’s answer to food porn, wanted people to be able to almost taste and smell the food from the screen.’

Here's our 5 favourite moments and how team M&S made them happen>


‘We hung lemon slices on fine thread, and positioned them at the top of frame so you can’t see the thread. We flicked the lemons with our fingers, then turned the whole frame upside down and slowed the speed. The result is that the lemons appear like they are spinning on their own.’ Pip.

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‘We simply put a strawberry between two pieces of glass and squashed it. We did the same with the cranberries and pomegranate.’ Chris

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‘We sprinkled the onions on thin ply and set up the camera in the air. Then somebody hit the ply from underneath and filmed them jumping in the air. It took a few frames to get it right so that they flew prettily.’ Pip

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‘Rolling a burger was probably the hardest one to shoot as it was just that: making a burger roll; no string, no tricks. It took the most time, loads of takes, over and over again, until it looked right. The burger falls over in the herbs, and the herbs needed to be painstakingly redressed with tweezers between every attempt.’ Chris

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‘No tricks here. The prawns were shot from above cooking on a griddle. The photographers we commissioned know food like the back of their hand, so knew beforehand that the prawns would all curl like that at the same time.’ Chris

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For recipes and ideas download the M&S Food App on Iphone app store and Google Play

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