Media Medium
6 October 2000

MARKS & SPENCER/RAINEY KELLY CAMPBELL ROALFE/YR

Wide of the Marks

Although currently off balance,
Libran Marks & Spencer's future may be on a more even keel

Marks and Spencer's Libran Scales (28 September 1894) are tipped out of balance as it struggles to modernise its management, marketing and old-fashioned image. Trouble has been brewing for years, but a turning point came in August 1999 when the sun's eclipse blotted out the Part of Fortune, a traditionally lucky point, in the financial zone of its horoscope. This was followed by violent oppositions to this point from innovative Uranus, but Marks and Spencer has over-reacted to the demand for change and appears to be spinning out of control.

The astrology looks brighter than current appearances suggest and if M&S gets a new CEO there is a good chance it will turn the corner. Its biggest astrological influence in 2001 is when relationship Venus progresses to its horizon in February, and that could symbolise a take-over, merger or new partnership.

In this broader context, M&S' first major advertising campaign, run by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/YR and launched on September 8, may be neither here nor there. In choosing it to run the campaign, M&S has a right instinct because this young, colourful agency is a creative Leo (August 10 1993) with its sun exactly on the M&S Part of Fortune. The brief came in on lucky Jupiter, but with Uranus involved, we can hazard a guess that it has also sown the seeds of a future split in the RKCK team.

The campaign aims to ditch the staid image and introduce a new sizing initiative. Like Uranus, this breaks convention, but who is the size 16 woman, running uphill, flinging off her clothes and shouting 'I am normal?' She is Marks and Spencer itself, in wild disarray and in an uphill struggle to get back to normal.

The astrology for the day of the first ad suggests which images will work and which will bomb. The M&S Moon has moved into Leo, crossing its Ascendant. A woman showing herself off fits a theatrical Leo Moon, but the 'Exclusively for Everyone' strapline doesn't quite capture the symbolism. Swanky Leo likes exclusivity but never thinks it is normal, and it certainly doesn't want to be an 'everyone'. The ambiguity reflects a dilemma at the heart of M&S, and the result is wide of the mark for Marks.

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