‘Not the best choice of wording...’ or a storm in a C cup? – your views on M&S ‘fancy little knickers’ Christmas campaign

PUBLISHED: 15:38 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 06:57 22 November 2018

The shop window in a Nottingham Marks and Spencer store which prompted anger from campaigner Fran Bailey over its 'fancy little knickers' slogan. Picture: Fran Bailey/Facebook/PA Wire

The shop window in a Nottingham Marks and Spencer store which prompted anger from campaigner Fran Bailey over its 'fancy little knickers' slogan. Picture: Fran Bailey/Facebook/PA Wire

Marks and Spencer has found itself under fire for a Christmas campaign which lists festive must-have items including ‘fancy little knickers’ for women alongside ‘outfits to impress’ for men. This is what our readers think of the advertising campaign.

Our reporter Amber Clarke took to the streets of Norwich to find out what shoppers thought.

Joy Glenister, 61, Taverham: “I find it annoying that all the Christmas displays are headlined saying ‘must haves’ because I shouldn’t be told what to wear. Within the window display there are no plus-size models, which is also an issue. With M&S currently trying to modernize their fashion, I think the timing of this isn’t great for them and is certainly not the approach to take.”

Irene McManus, 53: “When walking past the window display I didn’t notice the caption which goes with it, just because of where it is positioned. The display itself I am not offended by as the knickers are also displayed with perfume and bath sets, which women also use. However, the timing of the use of ‘fancy little knickers’ isn’t brilliant, due to the recent rape case in Ireland [in which a 17-year-old’s underwear was questioned in court before the accused was found not guilty], so I can understand why there was a massive outrage on social media.”

Susan Eves, 45, Norwich: “It’s people’s own interpretation on the issue. I’m not bothered by the window display at all; they’re just advertising nice underwear. In the full Christmas campaign it talks about comfy knickers. The window display isn’t just ‘must have fancy little knickers’ – it is also advertising knitwear too. I have also seen pictures of the M&S Nottingham store window display and having it displayed next to the men’s ‘must haves’ and linking it to stereotypes didn’t cross my mind.”

Georgia Hardcastle, 20, Norwich: “When walking past, I didn’t even notice the wording in the window, as it doesn’t stand out. ‘Must haves’ and ‘little’ isn’t the best choice of wording, it comes across as condescending.”

Shay Jordan, 19, Lowestoft: “It’s down to personal interpretation. I see where people are coming from in being offended by this, but it is easy to see how the juxtaposition is not intentional and if I had seen the display without reading the article or hearing others’ views about the M&S Nottingham store, I wouldn’t have thought any more of it. A lot of girls I have spoken to like having fancy or pretty underwear and I guess there’s just not the same demand in the male market of underwear.”

A heated debate has also been taking place on the EDP website, where opinion has been split on whether the campaign is offensive.

Reader Samantha said the ads had not convinced her. “Marks and Spencer have alienated their core market over the years, and have consistently failed in their feeble attempts to attract younger buyers. I am part of the core market, and I frankly have no interest whatsoever in *fancy little knickers*. It’s a silly slogan anyway,” she wrote.

Fellow commenter Jack Brindelli offered a pithy assessment, calling it “without doubt the creepiest way anyone could sell pants”.

User Wiven2 called the row a “storm in a C cup”, a view backed up by Guy Bentley. He wrote: “Stupid wording. Not offensive, but who on earth do they think they are appealing to? No wonder they are struggling.”

Nick Chapman also felt the issue had been overblown. “So it’s a pair of knickers in a window, and a bloke’s suit in the next - shock horror - we must all stop what we are doing and vomit,” he said. “Perhaps we just have blank shop windows so we don’t offend any more snowflakes.”

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