Harvey Nichols has maintained its tradition of irreverent and entertaining ad campaigns with its latest “Britalia” offering, released ahead of Christmas 16 and created by its long-standing agency Adam & Eve/DDB.
The upmarket department store has taken artistic license with the subtitles used in a scene from Luigi Pirandello’s play Come Tu Me Voui (As You Desire Me), which shows a couple in meltdown over the apparent plundering, by someone called Harvey Nichols, of all their Italian luxury items from their Valentino ready-to-wear, to their Armani lipstick and Versace underwear.
At one point the woman complains: “I can’t leave the house unless I am wearing Valentino! It’s embarrassing!” At the end of the spot, the couple demand that someone should pay for the crime and turn to a nervous-looking character who has been watching the scene. “Him,” suggests the woman, “but he’s not Harvey Nichols.” “Then find someone who is!” screams the man.
The campaign was created in partnership with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Italian Trade Industry.
Harvey Nichols, in partnership with London-based agency Adam & Eve/DDB, has gained a reputation for its provocative and humorous ads. It created waves in summer 2015 with its “Shoplifting” ad (above), which showed real CCTV footage of shoplifters caught in its flagship Knightsbridge store (their faces were hidden by comical criminal masks). The spot, designed to promote its Rewards App, ended with the line “Love freebies? Get them legally.”
Its Christmas ads have often been criticised for not reflecting the true spirit of Christmas (perhaps the team at Adam & Eve/DDB get enough of that when the create the annual weepfest that is the John Lewis Christmas campaign), however the campaigns do hit the mark when it comes to the retailer’s reputation as a temple of self-indulgence. (And they’re not supposed to be taken seriously, though Harvey Nichols really does commit to its theme.)
For Christmas 2013 the retailer released the “Sorry I Spent It On Myself” campaign that showed family members being given duff gifts by someone who had clearly blown all their Christmas shopping budget on themselves while in the store on the auspices of buying for others. The gifts shown in the film, such as Harvey Nichols-branded elastic bands, paperclips and toothpicks, were even produced and sold in the store as part of the “Sorry I Spent It On Myself Gift Collection.”
But this year the store did prove it isn’t above straightforward feel-good with its Summer 16 campaign. In the film, 100-year-old model Bo Gilbert recounts her life in style and the viewer is taken back-stage on a photoshoot with Gilbert renowned photographer Phil Poynter.
The dénoument shows Gilbert looking chic and radiant in an image of her wearing the latest designer fashion from the store, complete with the revelation that it would be used in an ad in the June 2016 edition of British Vogue, which, like Gilbert, was celebrating its centenary.
Watch it and try not to weep…