M&S will continue with “irresponsible” collectable toy promo

British retailer defends Little Shop gift-with-purchase campaign after consumers brand it “out of touch” with single-use plastic crisis

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 18.07.2019 | Retail

M&S will continue with “irresponsible” collectable toy promo thumbnail

Marks and Spencer will push ahead with a collectable plastic toy promotion, despite backlash from consumers who brand the stunt irresponsible and an unnecessary contribution to the single-use plastic crisis.

The Little Shop promotion rewards customers with a mini M&S Food-branded collectable replica every time they spend £20.

Each of the 25 collectables, which include M&S steak pies, breaded cod fingers, milk, fruit and veg, come packaged in a blind bag, so shoppers won’t know which they’ve received until it’s unwrapped. Information about where the food comes from and its role in a balanced diet comes on a fact card inside each pack.

A spokesperson told the BBC the promotion was designed to make M&S “more relevant to the family customer”, a move it says has been popular with customers and their kids. Special edition Little Shop aprons, trolleys and baskets can also be purchased.

But online the reaction has been anything but positive, with consumers dubbing it the “Little Shop of Horrors” campaign.

Consumers weighing in with their reactions online called it a “profit driven marketing tactic to drive children to pressurise parents into buying more from M&S”. Others lambasted the collectables as “wasteful rubbish”, “irresponsible” and “out of touch” with the current efforts to reduce single-use plastics from the ecosystem.

Carmel McQuaid, Head of Sustainability at Marks and Spencer, took to YouTube to address concerns.

In a two minute video, she says: “We wanted to let you know, how we’ve ensured that sustainability is at the heart of our Little Shop collectables,” before highlighting a number of initiatives to reduce their impact on the environment.

Families who have finished playing with the toys, for instance, can return them to the store and recycle them as part of the retailer’s on-going efforts to help shoppers responsibly dispose of hard-to-recycle plastics. Kids will also be able to attend swap events at 70 stores around the country, and any collectables that are leftover at the end of the campaign will also be recycled.

The campaign runs throughout the summer.

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