Imagine being a social influencer with a history of working with small local brands and receiving an email from Marks and Spencer saying they’d like to work with you. Happy days no? Who wouldn’t want to work alongside an established national treasure such as M&S?
Well as it turns out – me.
Last week I was asked by their PR team to post several Instagram pictures showcasing a brand new range of ‘collectables’ they would be offering customers who spent over £20 in their food hall. The #LittleShop range targets children and consists of a cardboard shelf setup and 25 mini collectable versions of items they consider to be iconic M&S (such as Percy Pigs and freshly squeezed OJ). I can’t say I thought the idea would be the biggest new kids’ trend since Baby Shark and the money they offered was fairly insulting but thinking that it would be a great move to start a relationship with the brand that could lead to bigger and better things (did Erica Davies not get the opportunity to design her own shoe?) I gladly accepted.
But then the product arrived.
Now I don’t know about you but when I hear the word collectables I picture ceramic, maybe wood. What I definitely don’t envisage and certainly wouldn’t contemplate that a modern brand would create a brand new range of, is tiny little pieces of plastic tat. Certainly not in 2019. Certainly not in Plastic-Free July. Certainly not given away to customers for free.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I do care deeply about the world we’re bringing up our children in. I’m definitely not doing as much as I can do personally to completely reverse my own impact on the planet but I am trying really really hard to make small and sustainable changes to living a greener and simpler existence. And I know a lot of you are too.
I’m also conscious that I am a privileged, white, middle-class mother from the Cotswolds and that due to the luck of the situation into which I have been born, I am able to make educated decisions about what not to buy and what PR campaigns not to touch with a barge pole (yes I turned down the campaign and any future relationship with M&S I’m sure). But many others need a bit more help.
Sometimes a mum at the checkout in an M&S food hall or who has just nipped in to McDonalds to quickly feed their child as there’s nothing left in the fridge does not have the energy to negotiate with a needy toddler about why they don’t need the free plastic tat being pushed on them. Sometimes even the most well meaning of us just say yes to get out of the shop and into the car where said item of plastic tat will be discarded before the journey is out. 97% of these ‘collectables’ will, I am 100% sure, end up in landfill.
I’ve logged on to the M&S website this morning and see that they will accept these items returned to them in time and will recycle them into children’s playground items – but honestly? All the emphasis and responsibility for getting them back to store lies with the parent – just don’t give us the stuff in the first place and then you can’t blame us when it goes in the bin.
It’s time we all spoke out. Brands must do more to support us as consumers to make the correct decisions for our planet. So M&S hear this – a page on your website detailing all the efforts that you are making to reduce your carbon footprint mean nothing when you are creating new product lines and doling them out for free, like the Little Shop range.
I don’t want your plastic tat. Neither do my children. I’m ready to fight the war on plastic. Who’s with me?
#RiseUp #Operationstoptat #LittleShop #waronplastic (share the video via your social media and force brands to think twice when they design new product ranges.)