M&S bringing sultry food voice-over ads back

Anna Friel

This isn't just any 'sultry' voice-over for a food advert: this is an M&S 'sultry' voice-over. The chain has announced a new direction for its food adverts - ditching ones emphasising quality and sustainability for a husky female voice over.

So are we back to so-called food porn, and who is the new voice?

'Food Porn'

Marks and Spencer gained a reputation a few years back for what became known as food-porn, matching a sultry female voice-over with lingering shots of food.

It was one of the steps it took to shake off its fuddy-duddy image of yesteryear - along with signing up a host of famous faces and bodies, and revealing them in endless lingerie adverts at Christmas.

However, its decision to axe the 'food porn' at the beginning of 2010, in favour of adverts emphasising 'Quality worth every penny' marked a realisation that while image is something, it takes more than image to sell high-end food in a difficult market.

Likewise, November's decision to ditch celebrity adverts for one showing more models of different sizes shows there has been a re-think on that front. It seems that we don't want to know what Twiggy would look like in a dress, we want to know what we would look like.

So is this another u-turn? Not entirely.

Marks and Spencer has announced that Anna Friel will be their new voice of food. The sultry voice is back, alongside close-up shots of the product. However, it's not quite food porn.

The campaign is known as 'Make Today Delicious', and the first one features a woman getting ready for a romantic date - and then stepping onto her own roof terrace for a BBQ.

Steve Sharp, M&S executive director of marketing, said that: "Spending time with friends and family is a priority for our customers, but with no major national celebrations this year they're placing even greater emphasis on personal, more everyday events. Food is being used as a way to bring people together and make those moments more memorable - be it a BBQ, a picnic or a Sunday roast. This campaign taps into this trend - showing exactly how great food can transform the mundane into something special."

The question is whether it will do the trick and have us flocking to the shop for marinated ribs. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Advertising's most sexist ads
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M&S bringing sultry food voice-over ads back

"A woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke". Only a woman? Feminists would take issue at the "only" adverb, and the idea that any human being of either gender is inferior to a cancer-inducing product from Benson & Hedges.

Don't blame the ad men completely. That ad tag line is actually the evil work of one Rudyard Kipling. From a poem he penned called "The Bethrothed".

Now this is a creepy ad: "I have created a playground for men's hands." Armando Ghedini created wigs "for other men who adore women". This wig was also wash'n'wear. Nice.

The thoughtful signor Ghedini had also designed a wig to be combed in any direction, "for men to tousle". Men, he said, become "inspired" by women who wore it and women, Ghedini added, were grateful.

VW advertising has often been self-deprecating and clever. In 1960s America their ads were phenomenally successful, persuading thousands of Americans to ditch large thirsty home-made offerings for the company's cramped, noisy but economical Beetle.

Their ads flattered the intelligence of the American middle class. But this ad depicing a bashed-up VW bug? "Sooner or later your wife will drive home one of the best reasons for owning a Volkswagen". Not their female customers, clearly. What were they thinking?

Similarly, Easyjet also thought that a pair of ample breasts would be enough to help ticket sales. This ad dates back to 2003 when George Bush, Dick Cheney and Tony Blair were getting very animated about those hard-to-find weapons of mass destruction.

This particular ad garnered around 200 complaints to the Advertising Council and also escaped any ticking off. And plenty of publicity of course. It all worked out beautifully for Easyjet. Tits away, Stelios.

Car manufacturers and cigarette companies are regular sexist offenders. Here Italian typewriter maker Olivetti peddles the idea that young women are passive, servants ready to transcribe boardroom minutes at a moment's notice.

Where are Olivetti now in the global brand firmament?. Join the Olivetti girls. At ease, ladies, please.

Melon distributor F.H.Hogue of California thought his melons were pretty buxom and wanted to spread the word. Ho-ho, Mr Hogue.

There are plenty more examples and we'll be looking at more anther time. In the meantime let's leave with a woman knowing exactly where she should be (in the home, honey).

Here is a 1970s shoe ad from a brand called Weyenberg. You may find it hard to track down a Weyenberg shoe today however.

However, not all car makers followed such a well-worn patronising path. Back in the 1970s Honda in the US reversed the idea that women always needed cars with simple, easy-to-drive automatic gearboxes.

Despite offering both a manual and auto gearbox, neither was "a women's car" Honda stated firmly. Note the jaunty hat and jeans. A stab at selling to the US lesbian community? Or an independent straight girl fed up with stereotypes. Good for Honda.


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