Harvey Nichols Plunders Italy for the Brits’ Shopping Pleasure This Holiday

Winter joy is a zero-sum game

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Every holiday, British department stores compete for whose ad will wring the most tears out of their customers. Given that this is a pretty crowded race, Harvey Nichols shoots for a category in which it's pretty much alone—the appeal of pure, unfettered materialism.

In this vein, it's taught us how to battle the deathlike rictus of "gift face," and even created a super-cheap line of crappy presents for people who'd rather spend their holiday budgets on themselves.

This year, Harvey Nichols kicks off winter with a wicked promotion for the Italian goods now available to its customers. Created by adam&eveDDB, "Britalia" appropriates a famous scene from As You Desire Me, a Luigi Pirandello play, in which an Italian couple are having a heated argument.

The subtitles have been changed, "Downfall"-style, to make it look like they're really unhappy with Harvey Nichols stealing everything worth living for in Italy, from Versace underpants to fancy pasta.

Thieving rats!

According to the department store, Italian products are the most sought-after items for holiday gifting, with sales of Italian wines, food, leather goods and accessories rising during this period. In response, Harvey Nichols is launching a new range of Italian merch, starting this month, from both emerging and established brands. 

It's also preparing a range of Italian hospitality experiences and partnerships, following joint Opinium research that finds U.K. households incorporate Italian products and traditions into their own celebrations. Some 25 percent of British adults consider Panettone, a kind of raisin brioche, a staple Christmas food; 20 percent buy Italian dessert to gift to loved ones; and 52 percent consider Prosecco a good Christmas day companion (as opposed to our own preference for after-holiday whisky, enjoyed alone). 

As a typically cheeky aside, Harvey Nichols also found that Italians are more likely to argue with family on Christmas (45 percent, versus 41 percent of Brits) and to keep grudges longer, too … which perhaps inspired the choice of video. 

"There could be no better time to celebrate Italy," says Shadi Halliwell, creative and marketing director at Harvey Nichols. "All aspects of Italian culture are experiencing a renaissance, and our recent sales data show that Italian products are the gifting items our customers turn to. We're delighted to be celebrating 'Britalia' and expanding our Italian fashion, food, drink and beauty collections to provide our customers with the most stylish edit of luxurious gifts."

The campaign went live Nov. 3, with print and outdoor executions following on Nov. 9. Below, check out some of the store's "Britalia" window dressings.


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@luckthelady angela.natividad@gmail.com 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.