Notes on a Harvey Nichols Christmas Ad

I’ve not hidden the fact that I’ve been looking forward to the Harvey Nichols Christmas ad since the festive season started early November.  The last few have been great, amazing really, as have adam&eveDDB’s other Christmas ads this year for John Lewis and (especially) Mulberry.  So when the ad went live December 2nd I was at peak excitement. 

I watched and, well, that was it.  I knew I had to blog about it but to be honest, I didn’t have much to say.  I think it’s a case of a&eDDB/Harvey Nichols being a victim of their own success but I’m just not that into it.  Don’t get me wrong, the ad’s good, maybe even great but not my favourite by any means.

Saying that I wasn’t the biggest fan of last year’s ad which went on to win all the awards at Cannes so what do I know?  Maybe this year’s ad is actually amazing too and I just don’t get it.  So here’s a post, well, some random, incomplete thoughts about it anyway.

PS #CouldIBeAnyClearer be any more Chandler?

PPS hats off to a&eDDB and client(s) for creating whole product ranges/services to compliment/cash in on their Christmas ads.  All very clever really.

PPPS if you need me I’ll be pretending the Mulberry ad was for Harvey Nichols.

a unicorn is for life, not just for christmas

Last week I crowned John Lewis the undisputed King/Queen of Christmas ads and I’m afraid I to have to correct myself.  With tear inducing John Lewis ads, (multi)award winning ones for Harvey Nichols and now an amazing Mulberry Crimbo ad under their presumably designer belts, I proclaim adam&eveDDB the Kings and Queens of Christmas advertising.  Somebody get them a paper crown or something.

When the Mulberry ad fist popped up in my Twitter feed I have to admit my expectations were pretty low.  I didn’t, and still don’t, know much about the brand beyond Cara Delevingne(sp?) associations so was anticipating something fairly staid.  It is a luxury brand after all, which tends to mean a focus of heritage and Britishness over anything interesting.  Cue my surprise when the ad turned out not only to be good but funny too.  The leading lady really steals the show her and it’s off the back of her performance that the ad is so strong.  The production does a great job of setting up the more expected Christmas scene but it’s the over the top, child like reaction is what really sells the ad as a whole.  For further over the top child like reactions, please see the Nintendo 64 boy.

I just wish ads would stop giving the impression that giving animals as a gift is acceptable, whether they’re real or not.

PS this has got me more than a bit excited for the presumably upcoming Harvey Nichols Christmas ad.  If a&eDDB can pull this out of the bag for Mulberry, risk taking Harvey Nichols are sure to get a stonker.

it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas advertising

We’re just under a week into November and the Christmas ads are coming thick and fast.  Undisputed King/Queen of Christmas ads recently past*, John Lewis, is on top form as usual.  Utilising the now classic John Lewis Christmas ad formula of stock seasonal symbolism and an acoustic cover of a smushy song the ad goes straight for the jugular/tear ducts with the tale of a lonely little Monty the penguin who just wants to love and be loved.  If this ad doesn’t hit you right in the feels then you are a mean one Mr(s) Grinch. 

The ad is beautiful in every sense and the special effects and editing are particularly strong.  It really is just a stunning ad to behold.  I’d be really interested to see some behind the scenes footage (as ever) to see how much is CGI and how much, if any, is edited live footage of a penguin having a romp.  Real or not I’m pretty sure Monty will see penguins replacing ponies as the most asked for gift this year.


Boots also employ emotional warfare in their Christmas offering telling the tale of a modern family coming together in the early hours of boxing day to celebrate Christmas with a nurse coming off shift.  It’s altogether more real, more gritty than Monty’s story and feels a bit grey, sad and tired in comparison. 

It reminds me of Sainsbury’s Christmas in a Day from last year, both ads taking a very real, very normal look at Christmas. My sister, a nurse, will undoubtedly love it but it seems a bit pandering to me.  I’m sure the reality of shift work around Christmas and New Year is unfortunately more familiar to more people than I probably realise.  It just feels a bit too real and loses the fun and glamour associated with Christmas (and especially Christmas advertising) as a result.  Part of me hopes this is the first in a series of ads from Boots but I’m not holding my breath.


The final ad I’m going to post isn’t actually a Christmas ad (I hope) but I figured I’d post it anyway (my blog, my rules).  It’s one of those strange fashion ads I wrote about recently.  The sort of ad that’s a nightmare to follow or try to understand but looks so bloody good you’re ok with that.  It’s very Game of Thrones, very high fantasy and very high fashion.  One of those ads that’s hard to explain why it works but it does.

It’s got me quite excited for Harvey Nichols upcoming Christmas ad (which is the reason I’ve included it).  They’ve had a great run of Christmas ads recently acting as an Alternative Christmas Message to John Lewis’ Royal Christmas one.  Last year’s effort, Sorry, I Spent it on Myself, pretty much won all the Cannes so there are some big stockings to fill.  I personally prefer Walk of Shame from a few years back but either way we can hope to see the typical Harvey Nichols humour and satirical take on some very real Christmas situations.  Please don’t disappoint.

*Coca Cola and their big red trucks will always be the ultimate in Christmas ads

can you guess what it’s for yet?

Do you want to play a game?  Yes? Good, carry on.  Below is an ad, an amazing ad at that, for a product and/or service offered by an Irish company.  Hopefully you haven’t seen it yet.  If you have, well done you, if you haven’t, have a watch (without looking at the caption ideally).  Can you guess what it’s for?  It took me right up to the end to get it.  Here’s a clue, it’s not the WWF.

So how long did it take you?

So that last one was easy so how about another? Is the orangutan in the video real or fake?  The answer might surprise you (horrific buzzfeed-esque, clickbait wording intentional)

PS stunning, right?

a few of my favourite things (perfume ads)

A few months I was asked what my favourite ad was and to make a short story long, I decided to turn it into a blog post/series.  It’s going to be nothing if not subjective because otherwise, what’s the point?  If you want to find the best/most awarded/most popular ads of their type then Google, my friend, is your friend.  A warning, Diesel’s BE STUPID is easily my favourite campaign of all time so even though I’m going to put together a post for each genre (and some made up ones of my own), be prepared to see variations on a Diesel theme quite a bit.


I have a soft spot for perfume ads (and the phrase ‘I have a soft spot for’).  Like ‘fashion editorials’ there’s something about the fantastical non sequitars, the try hard cinematics, and penchant for fog and mist that speaks to me.  The ultimate lesson in style over substance, striking visuals taking place of a typical narrative or standard storytelling.  Unfortunately, these types of ads tend to blur into one.  A pale woman in a sea of pales pinks and creamy off whites to a sountrack just as beige selling scents as sickly sweet, and forgettable, as the ads from whence they came.  It’s hard to discern what’s what and who it’s for.  A definite problem for the simple blogger like me.

Lucky for us, Dior are here to show us the way and the light.  The J’adore ad below is more than a fresh of breath air, I mean perfume, it’s a banging ad with a banginger score (courtesy of the Gossip).  I typically despise celebrity endorsements (though the inclusion of long gone icons isn’t exactly an endorsement) but the selection here is perfect.  What brand doesn’t want Marilyn Monroe handling their goods?*  To be associated with the likes of Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich and Audrey Hepburn?  It all results in an ad that screams glamour, be it old school or alternative.  It’s the YAAAS GAGA of the perfume ad world.

 *shout out to Chanel taking it even further, releasing a clip of the real Marily saying she wears their signature scent, Chanel No5.

more from this series here

back(pack) on track part deux

As you may, or probably may not, know I have a bit of thing for rucksacksFrom cheeseburger to dog prints, even a bag shaped liked a rocket, I’ve coveted them all.  There’s just something about them that appeals to my inner collector/hoarder.  Convincing myself of their practicality (and they are practical) allows me to justify the sort of ridiculous rucksacks I like (see above links).  They make my current rucksack wishlist look tame in comparison.

newlookneoFirst up are these neoprene beauties from New Look.  Neoprene is having a bit of a moment and if it were up to me I’d replace all my clothing with it.  There’s something about it that looks and feels like fetish gear which I think puts people off but I’m fan.  It holds its shape really well and is surprisingly comfortable and flattering (the latter two points slightly irrelevant for a rucksack).  They’re an absolute steal too with the yellow and red colourways costing only a tenner.  If you feel like being sensible the navy one is yours for just £19.99.  The perfect way to dip your toe in the neoprene trend without getting in too deep.


With the sensible stuff out of the way it’s time for the big guns.  Maybe it’s regret (dare I say,  FOMO) having missed the chance to grab the aforementioned rocket bag but I love these winged backpacks from Sprayground.  I especially love, and much prefer, the totem pole version (on the left in case you couldn’t tell).  Make all the Red Bull and sanitary towel jokes you want but unnecessary wings are also having a moment.  Sure, they’re a niche’ trend, currently a Jeremy Scott and Victoria’s Secret exclusive, but you never know when they’ll take of (BOOM BOOM).  Both these bags are expensive with a RRP of around £100 (iknorite!?) but can be found cheaper if you look around.  Alternatively it’s one for Santa so  I hope you’ve been good this year.