A top model in underwear : Merry Christmas from M&S !


With Christmas time getting closer, more and more ads with winter/magical atmospheres are released. This is what Marks & Spencer did with their new Christmas TV Advert, “Believe in Magic and Sparkles”, featuring Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, David Gandy and Helena Bonham Carter. This ad re-creates, with the English top model as the main character, several fairytales and famous stories : Alice in Wonderland, the 1001 Arabian Nights, the Wizard of Oz and so on.

Despite the fact that this is really a great ad in terms of aesthetics, something can clearly be criticized when we look at it through a “gender studies” eye. Of course, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is somehow objectify here, she has been selected for her beauty, she is blond and thin, which is how most women are represented in ads. But moreover, twice during the 2-minutes commercial, her clothes disappear and she is presented in her underwear : she is automatically sexualized. At 0:14, when she falls in a hole like Alice, suddenly she becomes almost naked. And the same thing happened at 1:00, when a magic carpet takes her into the sky and as a cloud passes in front of her, her clothes magically go away.

I do not have a problem with ads that display naked girls, but only when there is a goal to it, when the nature of the goods that are sold requires it. Maybe Mark & Spencer is going to justify itself by the facts that they are indeed selling underwear. But to my mind, this is more a way to make it more sensationalist and eye-catching. It does not fit the story of the ad, it happens at random moments, it makes no other sense that seeing Rosie Huntington-Witheley in underwear : the ad would have been perfect without these few seconds.


One thought on “A top model in underwear : Merry Christmas from M&S !

  1. cryan412

    I’m glad that you brought this commercial to our attention. I agree that Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is objectified; she is chosen to star in the ad based on the fact that her appearance fits the mold of what mainstream media considers to be beautiful. Her blonde hair, her tall and thin physique, and her slender body make her the perfect representation of stereotypical feminine beauty that is constantly depicted in the media. However, I think that the ad deserves some praise for straying from what we would expect to see in a lingerie ad. When I pressed “play,” I was completely prepared to see women in sexually provocative poses, half naked the entire time, draped over men. What I saw instead was a series of magical scenes with a few moments of surprise, which allowed the ad to feature the product being sold. Obviously, infrequent flashes of nudity is not congruent with the fairy tales being represented, but I think that the ad manages to treat Rosie Huntington-Whitelely as a humanized character in awe of Christmas magic rather than a typical sexy model just posing like a mannequin for the camera.


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