PETER YORK ON ADSNo 113: HARVEY NICHOLS

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The Independent Culture
WE'RE IN sales-commercial fortnight; normal creative service is suspended in favour of Fabulous Reductions. High Street and "shed" retailers, hardly patrons of the arts for the rest of the year, dominate the breaks with advertising so basic it could be American.

A few retailers however - more upscale ones - only appear on telly at sales times, and they're more careful to maintain their branding. The London department stores, for instance, see the opportunity to make a visual statement as central to any sales advertising. And the bargains are suggested, not instanced.

Harrods (see Peter York on Ads, 30 July 1995) has been admirably consistent, showing the same elegant sales commercial for years.

But Harvey Nichols is a fashion concept store, famous for its novel windows - the nearest we get to New York - and its designer concessions. So, in a 10-second two-part narrative, they give us a 30-year-old fashion icon and her world. The huge bell-pull tassel gives the first clue in episode one; we're in the "Think Shocking Pink" life of Lady Penelope, with her blonde power-bob c1965 - reminiscent of Angie Dickinson and all American newsreaders thereafter - her OTT cut-velvet walls and Parker, her loyal chauffeur. "Get the Rolls, Parker, we're going shopping."

Episode two starts with the Shocking Pink streamlined Rolls powering its way town-wards from Henley: "Where to m'lady?" asks the user-friendly puppet. The answer is husky, lingering: "The Harvey Nichols Sale, Parker." Lady P is by now in her miniature mink, made from one of Liz Taylor's old hats. There follows two seconds of perfect graphics, a white classic typeface on Shocking Pink again - "Harvey Nichols Sale, now on, open Sundays" (all demi- literate fashion people know Diana Vreeland said Shocking Pink was the Navy Blue of India, a fashionland classic). And that's it. Minimalism conspires to suggest all the campy chic of fashion's Abs Fabs sharp end in just 10 seconds altogether.

We have a Great Star, luxury the modern self-mocking way and immaculate high-fashion typography relayed from about six-foot square of studio space. A lesson to us all.

! Video supplied by Tellex Commercials.

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