Cannes winner case study: Harvey Nichols celebrates selfishness with anti-Christmas viral

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Luxury retailer Harvey Nichols made an unusual Christmas ad in 2013, encouraging shoppers to buy gifts for themselves at the high end store rather than spend the money on loved ones. This case study looks at how the bold funny ad turned controversial subject matter into a highly amusing and entertaining video, picking up the Cannes Lions Grand Prix in the process.

The Harvey Nichols "Sorry I Spent It on Myself" campaign focuses on people who buy their loved ones inexpensive holiday gifts, such as rubber bands and paper clips that come in Harvey Nichols-branded packaging, so they can spend more on themselves.

The commercial was developed by adam&eveDDB London and is the first UK win in the blue riband TV category since Cadbury's Gorilla in 2008.

The slogan "A little something for them, a bigger something for you" was used throughout the campaign.

The retailer actually sold the cheap, unusual presents featured in its ad — and sold out in just under three days.

Mark Tutssel, global chief creative officer for ad firm Leo Burnett, predicted the "Sorry I Spent it on Myself" campaign would do well at the Cannes Festival because it's a simple, yet atypical, holiday advertisement.
"It's a different take on the holiday campaigns we're used to, and I think it will be very successful," Tutssel said.

The campaign earned the top award in the Press category after picking up the same top prize in Promo and Activation on Monday.

Harvey Nichols' advertising approach was "brave" and "flew in the face of convention around holiday advertising," said film jury member Pete Favat, who is the chief creative officer at ad agency Deutsch LA, in Los Angeles. "For a retailer to take their highest-selling season and do something like this is remarkably bold."

He also praised the creative way that selfishness was made to be funny. "To take greed and make people laugh and smile about it is extremely difficult. And as a piece of film, we felt unanimously that it was a perfect piece of film."

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