Deck the halls with Holly and He­len: M&S in fes­tive ad wars

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Katie Hind SHOWBUSINESS EDITOR

THE bal­loon’s gone up on the tra­di­tional – and highly lu­cra­tive – TV Christ­mas com­mer­cial bat­tle, with Holly Wil­loughby and Dame He­len Mirren sign­ing up with Marks & Spencer to take on Sir El­ton John’s ad for John Lewis.

Take That will pro­vide the theme tune and The Mail on Sun­day un­der­stands that film­ing for the M&S ad­ver­tise­ment be­gan last night.

The chain’s bosses are hop­ing that by re­cruit­ing 73-year-old act­ing roy­alty Dame He­len and pop­u­lar 37-year-old This Morn­ing star Holly they will be able to ap­peal to shop­pers across the gen­er­a­tions.

The closely guarded theme is said to be based on the stars re­ceiv­ing Christ­mas sur­prises in what is de­scribed as a ‘feel­good’ ad.

In­sid­ers work­ing on the project say the stars will be filmed walk­ing along a fes­tive high street.

Holly’s ap­pear­ance in the cam­paign comes shortly af­ter she signed a lu­cra­tive deal with M&S to be the chain’s brand am­bas­sador.

Last week we re­vealed that John Lewis con­scripted Sir El­ton for a stag­ger­ing £5mil­lion.

Ear­lier this month, he filmed scenes at Pinewood Stu­dios in Buck­ing­hamshire of him play­ing the pi­ano in what will be the cli­max of the ad­vert.

It will also star younger ac­tors, who play Sir El­ton, 71, as a child and teenager.

A source told The Mail on Sun­day: ‘The com­pe­ti­tion be­tween Marks & Spencer and John Lewis has be­come huge now.

‘Both are do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to outdo the other.

‘John Lewis thought that they were on to a win­ner with Sir El­ton but Dame He­len and Holly, along with Take That, will be just as big a draw and they might just win this year.’

Last year saw Marks & Spencer roll out Padding­ton Bear to take on John Lewis’s Moz the Mon­ster in a com­pe­ti­tion that saw ex­perts vot­ing John Lewis the win­ner, based on the lev­els of in­ter­est gen­er­ated across so­cial me­dia.

POP­U­LAR: Holly Wil­loughby AP­PEAL: Dame He­len Mirren RECIPE FOR EL­E­GANCE: Mary wears high-street styles in this ex­clu­sive pho­to­graph for to­day’s You mag­a­zine

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