No such thing as an original idea? St Albans man's frustration over M&S ad

Alex Scott with his concept (left) and this year's M&S ad (right).

Alex Scott with his concept (left) and this year's M&S ad (right). - Credit: Alex Scott

What makes one design idea succeed when another is rejected over and over again? That's the question being asked by a St Albans man who tried to pitch a Christmas branding idea to a high street giant.

Alex Scott, of Bricket Wood, was shocked to see this year's Marks & Spencer Christmas campaign featured a similar idea to one he mooted some years ago.

He revealed: "I am an M&S shareholder, and after years of falling share prices and reducing dividends, M&S installed their chief executive Steve Rowe, back in 2016. Out of frustration at my declining shares, I pitched an ad concept using the M&S logo in CHRISTM&S AND XM&S. Simple but ingenious. It was rejected. I refined it over time to a 40 page proposal, and tried again in 2017, 2018, then for a final time in 2019."

Alex's ideas brought him in front of the then-marketing director and the company's ad agency, but although they reviewed it they decided not to pursue the idea.

Flash forwards several years, and a very similar idea appears in this year's Marks & Spencer festive campaign, leaving Alex confused as to why his pitch was rejected.

"If the same idea was developed independently, why was my pitch unsuccessful and the later one wasn't?" he asked.

An M&S spokesperson explained: “We love that our customers, colleagues and shareholders are passionate about our brand and share ideas about how we market ourselves, for example our Romford store team - after going viral on TikTok - suggested a Christmas charity single which is currently in the charts and raising money for charity.

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"The tactic of adjusting the company name is something we’ve done before, and Alex Scott is one of many people who has cleverly suggested using ‘XM&S’ within a Christmas campaign.

"This year our team at ODD London came up with incorporating a play on our logo into our campaign ‘Making the season anything but ordinary’ and we’ve had great customer feedback – including on the logo.

"With so many creatives working on our campaigns and ideas being suggested we’re incredibly careful to always ensure we follow all guidance on intellectual property and not to infringe any rights.”