M&S recruits comedians to boost its flagging sales

The high-street chain is manifestly hoping so, having recruited the comedians Jimmy Carr and Bob Mortimer and The Office star Martin Freeman as the new faces of its upmarket Autograph clothes collection.

Captured by the renowned photographer David Bailey in their M&S suits, the trio might, nonetheless, be regarded as more bloke next door than some of the stars who have promoted the store in the past, such as David Beckham and Joan Collins.

Steve Sharp, the marketing director, said many male customers were not keen on the stereotypical male model look, yet choosing ordinary people for adverts was difficult.

"Dove [bodycare products] have done it with a particularly successful campaign, but they're not in the fashion business and we are. These men have ordinary figures and faces and hairstyles but they are celebrities," he said.

"They're known for their honesty and their humour and they bring that honesty in a way you don't get with a fashion model or an ordinary person."

All three had been happy to take part in the promotion which begins next month, he added. "Comedians, historically, were fairly shabby in appearance, but there's a new genre that really likes to dress smartly and many of their observations are based on how people look and shop."

Jimmy Carr, who is currently at the Edinburgh festival, said: "Who doesn't wear M&S underwear? They've been 'supporting' me for years and now I'm glad I've got a suit to wear as well. Marks & Spencer is a great British institution."

The Autograph menswear line is designed by Timothy Everest and Nigel Hall with prices of £249 for a tailored suit and £39.50 for a merino wool sweater. The range is being extended from 30 stores to 180 this autumn.

Claire Beale, the editor of Campaign, the advertising industry magazine, said Marks & Spencer had enjoyed some success with the use of celebrity endorsements from Helena Christensen and Cat Deeley and were trying to repeat that for male shoppers.

"They've been clever in their choice of male celebrities because the comedians are well liked, they are more approachable and easier to relate to than some of the threatening fashion icons used by rival clothes brands," she said.

"The challenge for M&S is to put itself back on the map of the affluent younger shopper and the celebrities they've chosen will have a particular resonance with this audience."

What it will do for their respective comedy careers is quite another matter.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own