How photography drives their advertising campaigns

In the last couple of weeks, Tesco and M&S have unveiled new national advertising campaigns, both relying on photography. But the similarity ends there.

The new M&S campaign, Britain’s Leading Ladies ‘brings together some of this country’s most inspirational women to celebrate the autumn M&S collections.’ Set against a range of quintessentially British backdrops, immaculately styled and beautifully photographed, this is a very strong and impactful high-end image. Oh, yes, and those images are central of course to an ad campaign that’s plastered over 48 sheets all over the county, adorning the windows in store, and headlining their website.

Right at the other end of the scale is an equally sized campaign by Tesco. Again, it’s being used in posters, in store and certainly at my local store, plastered all over the point of sale. Photography features to a lesser extent in this campaign, but product imagery is central to the concept and the ads featured lovely graphics, an autumnal pallet and an eclectic mix of food cut outs, from mustard jar to an ice lollie, a lettuce leaf to a burnt beefburger.

There are two points we want to make here.

1. How central photography is to advertising campaigns. And not just the blue chip brands

2. How diverse photography is. There are endless ways photography can be used and endless styles and effects that can be created.

The forgotten component of advertising campaigns

What’s remarkable though, is despite photography being a central component of many ad campaigns, and the creativity and technical ability employed in producing those images, photography’s role in advertising goes virtually unmentioned.

This is not true of the advertising itself, which is very widely commented on and reported on in a number of high profile and well read specialist publications, and often in the national press. To be fair to ad agencies, they are the owners of the concepts, but they are also naturally astute self-marketers and are naturally going to be PRing their own abilities rather than those of a freelance photographer however fantastic a role they have played in the finished ad campaigns.

This isn’t a rant against ad agencies by any means. It’s merely an observation of another area where photography talent and ability goes unmentioned and is part of the much wider and more complex issue of the gradual devaluation of commercial photography that we’ve been seeing over the last few years


To see the full Tesco campaign on W+K London’s site click here

Some of the M&S images are currently featured on their website



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