Selfridge’s Latest Campaign Explores Luxury as a Concept in Surrealist Film

The cinematic ad questions the meaning of extravagance in today's world

Norbert Schoerner directed Selfridges' cinematic ad, now playing in U.K. movie theaters. Selfridges
Headshot of Angela Natividad

What is luxury, anyway?

Marking what the brand calls its first cinematic ad campaign in 40 years, Selfridges has released “Radical Luxury,” a 60-second film appearing in movie theaters across U.K. cities like Birmingham, London and Manchester from April 20 to May 19.

Conceived and directed by Norbert Schoerner, the work is replete with both symbols of luxury, old and new, as well as references that inform our ideas about it in art and history. It opens in a way that’s almost jarringly gaudy, with images of retro-futuristic disembodied lips, palm trees, gold bars and a veritable explosion of fashionable trinkets.

Then the work relaxes dreamily into itself; a hand reaches for a cloud, which fills the screen and parts to reveal classical statues and columns, then a number of rich Surrealist and film references informed by the likes of Man Ray, Kubrick, Powell & Pressburger, Dalí, Magritte and Duchamp.

The point isn’t just to create a gorgeous visual poem—though it is stunning—but to get consumers to reexamine what luxury is and experience it in a unique way.

The campaign will include billboards, a digital element and video-on-demand placement. It supports the department store’s in-store “Radical Luxury” push, which questions the meaning of luxury in today’s world. It also marks the unveiling of the completed new Accessories Hall, which will feature new art destinations.

Live experiences include a multi-sensory exhibition dubbed “The Flipside,” which takes an alternative view of luxury through seven different experiences. It’s happening at the Old Selfridges Hotel and was designed alongside brands like Louis Vuitton, Google, Loewe and Thom Browne.

“Radical Luxury” will appear at Everyman & Curzon, Picturehouse, The Barbican, DCM and Pearl & Dean Cinemas in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Schoerner, who worked with composer and sound designer Mimi Xu, calls “Radical Luxury” the “most modern piece of work I’ve created.” He notes Duchamp’s influence “in the idea of reassembling different fragments into surreal contexts” and Dalí “with the stairs that start in the sky.”

Overall, he says the work is “Dalí meets Ken Russell.”

“It was an exciting challenge to convert a concept as ubiquitous as the ‘meaning’ of luxury into a unique visual narrative and to play with a broad range of art historical references in the process,” Schoerner said. “Hopefully this film will connect with people and allow them to rediscover Selfridges through an unexpected lens.”

See other imagery below.

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.