Aimed at Fashionistas, connoisseurs of fashion or just merely victims of it (think Patsy and Edina in Absolutely Fabulous), DDB's "Calendar," the annual Harvey Nichols' brand campaign, perfectly sums up the desire bordering on obsession that some shoppers feel towards the famous Knightsbridge store. Via a variety of executions, "Calendar" portrays the sacrifices people endure during the course of a month in order to shop at their favourite shop, such as living on baked beans, substituting a telephone book for toilet paper and feeding their cat only water.
Written by Adam Tucker and art directed by Justin Tindall, who have worked on the account for three years, the campaign positions Harvey Nicks as the High Church of fashion. "HN represents hallowed ground for those who want to worship," says Tucker. "While all the ads have an element of wit and humor, they also try to empathise with the target audience-we want people to recognise a bit of themselves in every ad. Each successive campaign has sought to build on this insight."
Harvey Nichols, which is also famous for its award-wining windows, has a storied history of such witty, insightful ads, which says Tindall, allows them to be more obtuse with the creative idea. "We like to give the audience something to 'get,'" he says. "With a long-running brand positioning you can approach things in a more lateral way and people (hopefully) will still get it."
The idea for the ad originated when planner Catherine Moustou confessed that she'd justified buying a bag from HN when she was a student on the basis that she would live on beans for a month. "We then examined this gift horse's teeth for days before the most long-winded Eureka in history," says Tucker. "It's not that we didn't recognise the idea, it was just that we tried to do everything in one image (in a Cannes kind of style)." Later, they realised that it was an opportunity to do something different visually and something unexpected from HN.
Not that it was exactly easy to execute. "We are quite fussy," says Tindall. "Each shot in each execution is unique-no plate of baked beans is replicated. So, there are 30/31 shots in each ad, rather than the usual one. James Day, the photographer, had sleepless nights in order to meet the deadline. We didn't make too many friends on this one."
And, if the fact that people have been stealing the transport posters and the point-of-sale is any indication, then it's been very successful. "We've had recognition from the difficult-to-please fashion industry and the difficult-to-please advertising industry," says Tindall. "Even the designers Christian Louboutin and Lanvin, whose work has been featured in the ads, have written nice things to us. Now, we're just waiting for them to send over some freebies."
The client was also delighted-not exactly a bad thing. "She has an instinct for creative work and she liked this one from the first presentation," says Tindall. Oh, and by the way, as a point of information, the beans are real but the cat is stuffed.