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

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: December 2, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT