In case you haven’t walked down a sidewalk or gone on the Internet lately, pretty much every store is having a gigantic sale right now. To set their sale apart from all those other ones, high-end British department store Harvey Nichols sent out a mailer this week that showed models with wet spots on their crotches. The fliers were printed with the words “The Harvey Nichols sale: try to contain your excitement.”
As people love to get riled up about controversial matters like pee, the Telegraph ran a lengthy roundup of various people’s negative reactions to the flier, as culled from Twitter. (“Gross!” “Ew!” etc.) They also got a quote from a spokeswoman from Harvey Nichols, who said that the campaign was inspired by true stories of frenzied customers peeing on the floor at previous sales, and they wanted to send a message about such behavior being inappropriate. Just kidding — it was inspired by a Pretty Woman quote, according to the spokeswoman:
We developed the campaign to promote our summer sale and capture the excitement in a light-hearted, humorous way.
The images in our advertising were designed to be a visual representation of a well-known phrase.
During the production of the campaign, we researched the use of this expression in popular culture and social media and were satisfied that is is both commonplace and invariably used in a playful, inoffensive manner, which was in-keeping with the tongue-in-cheek spirit in which we intended our campaign to be taken.
Last Christmas, Harvey Nichols got a similar backlash when they ran an ad that joked about doing a “walk of shame,” which offended some folks (but not quite enough of them, apparently). One-night stands and pee — they really get you in the mood to shop, don’t they?