Ad of the Day: Harvey Nichols Plays the Grinch in the Year’s Most Selfish Holiday Campaign

Gag gifts save money you can spend on yourself

Harvey Nichols, the upscale U.K. department store, understands what Christmas is all about. Frankly, it's about getting what I want and feeling pleased with myself.

Sure, like everyone else, I prattle on about the spirit of giving and letting friends and family know how much I care—yadda, yadda. But deep down, I want some dope stuff under the tree. And if I have to buy that stuff for myself, and cheap out on presents for everyone else to afford it, well so be it.

Cue Harvey Nichols's tongue-in-cheek "Sorry, I Spent It On Myself" campaign from adam&eveDDB. Forget those other campaigns that stir yuletide emotion through cuddly animation, grainy nostalgia or well-choreographed glitz. Harvey Nichols undercuts them all by celebrating the gloriously greedy "Gimme!" impulse that ultimately drives the capitalist machine, especially during holiday season.

The campaign deftly mixes advertising, social media (via the #SpentItOnMyself hashtag) and in-store promotions by offering nattily packaged but ultra-cheap, jokey gifts you can buy for friends and family—leaving you the cash to spend bigger on yourself. These include paperclips, a water-resistant sink plug, genuine wooden toothpicks, plastic doorstops, a bag of gravel (from Lincolnshire—in England!) and Christmas lunch in a tin, with, we're assured, at least some of the trimmings.

"At this time of year it can be all too easy to get caught up in the spirit of giving," says client marketing director Julia Bowe. "Our new 'Sorry, I Spent It On Myself' gift collection will provide our customers with low-cost gifting options for others that will allow them to spoil themselves that little bit more this Christmas."

The collection is presented in a great James Rouse-directed film that gauges the reactions of folks young and old as they unwrap the cut-rate items on Christmas morning. (The style here couldn't be more different from adam&eveDDB's heart-tugging John Lewis spot. This agency shows impressive range.) The nearly two-minute clip is marvelously understated, and the responses of the recipients are often priceless, even if the gifts themselves aren't. "It's toothpicks," one guy says, with a confused look on his face. "You love toothpicks," says his wife, caressing the expensive tote-bag she got for herself.

In another vignette, Grandma unwraps a packet of paperclips as her grandson, wearing a chic jacket, enthusiastically explains, "They're from Harvey Nichols!" She smiles, nearly speechless. "Harvey Nichols … wow."

Wow indeed! Now, I can stick everyone on my gift list with Harvey Nichols paperclips and toothpicks—sorry, the gravel's a few pence too pricey—and have plenty of money left to buy myself those gold iPhones and remote-control drones I've been eyeing!

Client: Harvey Nichols
Project: Sorry, I Spent It On Myself
Julia Bowe – Marketing Director
Anna Davidson – Marketing Manager
Alexa Mullane – Senior Marketing Executive
Creative agency: adam&eveDDB
Executive Creative Directors: Ben Tollet, Emer Stamp, Ben Priest
Copywriter: Daniel Fisher
Art director: Richard Brim
Account Team:
Paul Billingsley – Business Director
Kannayo Okolie – Account Manager
Planner: Jessica Lovell
Product Design and Design: Alex Fairman
Creative Producer: Kirsty Harris
'Range' film: Daniel Moorey
'Sorry, I Spent It On Myself': Victoria Keenan
Media agency: Rocket
Production company:
'Range' film – Siobhan Squire
'Sorry, I Spent It On Myself' film – Outsider
'Range' film – James Day
'Sorry, I Spent It On Myself' film – James Rouse
Editor ('Sorry, I spent It On Myself' film): Bill Smedley
Soundtrack name and composer ('Sorry, I spent It On Myself' film):
Title: Silent Night
Composer: Stuart Hancock
Music Production Company: SIREN @ Factory Ltd
Publisher: SIREN Publishing Ltd
Post-production: MPC
Audio post-production: Factory Studios
Exposure: Products sold in-store and on Harvey Nichols website, POS, online