Real Shoplifters Star in Ad for Harvey Nichols, Where There’s a Better Way to Get Freebies

Cops and robbers

Shoplifters get their comeuppance in adam&eveDDB's latest work for Harvey Nichols, which promotes the chain's Rewards App with the tagline, "Love freebies? Get them legally."

The 90-second spot uses "100% genuine actual real honest footage" from security cameras in the retailer's flagship Knightsbridge, London, store, agency executive creative director Ben Tollett tells AdFreak. "We got to sit in the Harvey Nichols CCTV control suite with all the store detectives, toggling the cameras around," he says. "It did feel pretty cool."

The perps are particularly brazen, pinching clothes, jewelry, perfume and more, often with patrons and staff standing close by. (The department store shouldn't be surprised by such behavior. Its best-known campaign urges folks to drop by and selfishly pick up stuff for themselves—though payment was strongly suggested.)

For the new commercial, the crooks' faces are obscured by emoji-like "robber" animations, complete with black masks and, in one case, a knitted ski-cap with slits for the eyes and mouth. Created by the Layzell Brothers at Blink, these effects give the spot an oddly memorable creepy/cheeky vibe.

Ultimately, it doesn't end well for the baddies. "Don't bother shoplifting in Harvey Nichols," warns Tollett. "The only free thing you'll get is a day trip to the local police station."

True enough. Knocking over a Reserva store in the dead of night is a better bet.

@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.