Harvey Nichols ‘Rewards’ – Did The Cannes Winner Steal Our Hearts?

Harvey Nichols’ hilarious “Rewards” ad campaign beat off stiff competition to win the Film Grand Prix at Cannes Lions last year.

The video, which superimposes cartoon villain heads over CCTV footage of real-life shoplifters, earned the UK retailer and agency Adam & Eve/DDB the top honour in the Film category in 2016.

So with only a few days to go till Cannes Lions 2017 kicks off, we thought we would look at the ad campaign in more detail.

It certainly impressed the Cannes judges, but did it impress consumers? Well, we used our content testing tool Unruly EQ to find out.

Here are the results:

Emotional impact

As any comedian will tell you, making people laugh is one of the hardest job around, especially when you are a brand.

But Harvey Nichols’ “Rewards” did manage to do this, with 7% of viewers stating they found the ad intensely funny. Just to put that into context, that’s more than three times the UK average.

Amazement, presumably that a retail company would use footage of shoplifters to promote its brand, was the second strongest emotional reaction at 6% – 50% higher than the UK norm.

No doubt prompted by scenes of people committing crime, the ad was also three times more likely to make viewers sad than the average UK campaign. It also meant feelings of happiness were lower than the UK average.

Looking at the cognitive responses and it’s a similar story, with feelings of shock and surprise much higher than the UK average.

Interestingly, knowledge (of the brand and the rewards app it is trying to promote) is lower than average, suggesting people did not quite join the dots with the product tagline: “Love Freebies? Get them legally.”

As you can see from the most common negative responses, the ad also elicited strong feelings of disgust (over 4x UK avg) and contempt at the actions of the main protagonists in the ad.

Will people share it?

A key component of any successful video campaign is that it encourages viewers to engage with the ad.

Due to its slightly controversial content, “Rewards” certainly did that, with a fifth of viewers admitting they would share it to see what other people thought of it, while 14% would share it to start a conversation.

However, only 11% said they would share it to recommend the brand – which is lower than the UK average of 12%. Meanwhile, zeitgeist and kudos: coolhunter were higher than the UK norm, possibly because of its status as a Cannes winner.

Business impact

So the ad made people laugh (and some a little sad) and they were willing share it with their social networks, but did the ad deliver real business impact? Did it inspire people to shop at their nearby Harvey Nicks store? Or at least find out more?

Well, not really, to be honest. If you take a look at the chart below, you can see that the ad was less likely to get people to purchase products find out more, think more favourable of the brand or promote the brand than the UK average.

In fact, the only metric which exceeded the UK average was the willingness of share the content online, which was driven mainly by the controversial and surprising content.

Viewers wanted to share the ad with their social networks, but not necessarily to talk about its new Rewards app.

Brand recall

Brand recall was also slightly lower than the UK average (77%), with 75% correctly identifying the brand.

Conclusion

The ad may have been hit among the judges at Cannes, but consumers were slightly less enthusiastic and generally confused.