Upmarket U.K. department store Harvey Nichols has made something of a habit out of viciously funny advertising. It’s Christmas spots in particular have been biting in tone. The “Sorry I spent it on myself” campaign for Christmas 2013 was a huge hit and won numerous awards, including a Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions last year.
Its spectacular success was followed up with the even more brutally direct “Could I be any clearer?” for Christmas 2014. This year, however, the level of mean-spiritedness seems to have been dialled down a bit. A new spot, created like its predecessors by agency adam&eveDDB, is the simple tale of a family on Christmas morning that presents one of their number with a series of seriously underwhelming gifts. Perhaps she didn’t follow the advice about forthright gift requests from the 2014 campaign, which was meant to prevent exactly this kind of thing occurring.
Throughout the ad, the young woman’s face is held in a frozen grimace as she receives the procession of ghastly gifts. Harvey Nichols has called this rictus grin “Gift Face.” For the absence of doubt, there is a helpful definition on the retailer’s website, which reads: “Gift Face: Noun. The contortion of one’s face when feigning excitement, happiness, or gratitude for a terrible, terrible Christmas gift.”