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Cards with clout

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

UK department store chain’s campaign focuses on helping people get exactly what they want this Christmas

If you were thinking that upmarket British department store chain Harvey Nichols might have had a change of heart about Christmas, you’re out of luck. With neither a cute penguin nor a shared chocolate bar in sight, this year’s holiday campaign is another tongue-in-cheek celebration of greed.

With the retailer’s 2013 Christmas campaign, Sorry I Spent It On Myself, sweeping the board at the 2014 Cannes Advertising Festival, scooping the Grand Prix in Film, Press and Promo & Activation, this year’s campaign is a worthy sequel. It promotes a greetings card range that has been specifically designed to help people get precisely what they want on Christmas morning.

Through adam&eveDDB in London, the Could I Be Any Clearer Christmas card collection enables people to request specific items on sale at the department store’s seven outlets. The film (above) shows one such hopeful tapping up her Auntie Val for a pair of Charlotte Olympia silver Octavia sandals. A steal at just £795 ($1,248).

On, customers can select from a range of cards (see gallery, below) or design their own spelling out precisely what Harvey Nichols item they’re coveting. The card can then be printed, emailed or shared via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Users can also use the Could I Be Any Clearer app to help communicate their hearts' desires to their loved ones.

The retailer is also selling a set of six non-personalised Christmas cards from the Could I Be Any Clearer collection for £6 ($9.4). The cards feature such witty greetings as: ‘Good will to all men, except you if you don’t buy me a designer outfit from Harvey Nichols that’ll bring traffic to a standstill. It’s not to much to ask.’

Harvey Nichols is promoting the cards (see images below) with an integrated campaign including in-store, digital and the online film directed by Eric Lynne via Partizan.

Shadi Halliwell, group creative and marketing director of Harvey Nichols, said: ‘We all secretly want wonderful gifts and Harvey Nichols is there to help make your Christmas dreams come true. With our Could I be any Clearer app, you can cheekily spell out that stylish gift you’ve always wanted, making sure you end up with that Lanvin silk dress rather than the iron to steam it with!’

Contagious Insight / 

Specific customers / As the Insight & Strategy interview feature on I’m Sorry I Spent It On Myself reveals, Harvey Nichols has a specific type of customer and ‘celebrates the absurdities of high fashion’. Could I Be Any Clearer is clearly targeting a high-end customer who would be thrilled with a present from Harvey Nichols and is helping them get what they want. For anyone who was considering actually printing the Christmas cards - either in a tongue-in-cheek way or in all seriousness -there are only a limited number of people they could get away with giving them to: i.e. close relatives or partners. In other words, the very people who’d be willing to stump up hundreds on Christmas presents. Of course, this is played to comic effect in the film: there’s no way Auntie Val looks like she’s got a spare £795 that she’s willing to blow on strappy shoes for her niece this Christmas. There’s a clear echo here of the 2013 campaign where the film showed people’s reactions to being given a bag of elastic bands, paper clips or gravel on Christmas morning.

Deflecting disappointment / This range of Christmas cards has been designed to help people avoid the disappointment of receiving unwanted gifts on Christmas Day. And though this incredibly direct approach might be deemed unseemly, the perennial problem of being presented with awful and inappropriate Christmas gifts is a real one. Sure, a £795 pair of shoes might not be a practical suggestion, but the range of hampers, for instance, some of which retail for under £50 ($79), could well be a helpful suggestion for a clueless relative.

Driving traffic online / What this campaign will do well is to drive traffic onto the Harvey Nichols website: there’s a link directly from the online film to the site where you can browse the cards and suggest presents. And, of course, once you’re on the site, the rest of the Harvey Nichols' tempting luxurious fare is a mere click away…

Harvey Nichols


This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact