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Merry Christmas To Me

by Jamal Cassim

I love the ones who tell it like it is.

Especially when many brands tend to steer towards the easy truths, not the uncomfortably juicy ones.

And deep down, perhaps you too suspect it: that Christmas is a ruse.

No amount of Mariah can mask the fact that despite all the tinsel – a time of coming together, of family and well-wishing, traditions and all of that – it’s really a time for the retailers.

It’s no coincidence that the red outfit of Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola, that the shopping season seems to start a little earlier each year.

This is why I love Harvey Nichols’ magnificent run of Christmas campaigns in the 2010s. They get me by leaning so hard into the consumerism just bubbling underneath.

Were these some of the most interesting briefs in retail?

Back in the day, they really knew how to talk to uncompromising lovers of fashion and luxury.

Never bland or patronising, this is work that tickles the materialist in all of us. Because gifting has nothing to do with being naughty or nice, really – but getting the beautiful objects you definitely deserve.

Where other brands find the warm and fuzzies, Harvey Nichols is all about indulgence. These campaigns prod hard at the social awkwardness familiar to a family Christmas: the fake smiles, performances, and faux pas. But all done with so much charm, you still get a little bit of that Christmas glitter.

Gift Face (2015) – is so recognisable because we’ve all been here. Could Harvey Nichols save us? Maybe.

Could I be any clearer (2014) is a little more on-the-nose, but a fun inversion of the usual inter-generational Christmas feelgood film.

Sorry I spent it on myself (2013) was the pinnacle for me though. An entire range available in store to justify your own indulgence. Delightful.

These are holiday ads with a charmingly mean streak. If you’re in it for yourself this season, well – there’s someone on your side too.

Because it’s not just the thought that counts, is it?

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Jamal Cassim

→ A proven business leader to some of the world’s most innovative and successful B2B and government brands including AGL, CommBank, WorkSafe and the BBC.

 Jamal’s multifaceted experience includes the practical application of insight into meaningful growth strategies, processes and digital products. From start-ups to blue-chip businesses, he’s helped launch ideas, scale teams, revitalise systems, and worked with business leaders to level-up their models and approach to brand experience.

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