WET ONES: Water, water, every where, and now it’s time to blink — or look away. Harvey Nichols has come under fire from the U.K. press and Tweet followers for its summer sale ad campaign, which broke on Monday. It features images of two nattily turned out women and one man, all with large wet spots on their crotches. The tag reads: “The Harvey Nichols Sale: Try to Contain Your Excitement.” The store, which developed the ad with the communications agency DDB UK, said it drew its inspiration from one of Julia Roberts’ lines in Pretty Woman: “It was so good, I almost peed my pants!” On Monday, The Daily Telegraph columnist Cristina Odone, said: “Coarseness is the new norm in Britain — and these tasteless ads are part of the trend.” Other newspapers published the flood of angry Tweets about the ads. A Harvey Nichols spokeswoman told WWD: “It was very much about being tongue in cheek. It was a play on Julia Roberts’ line, and we wanted to capitalize on the humorous side of the sales hysteria.” The ads first appeared in postcard-sized mailshots to Harvey Nichols customers, and broke in the U.K.press today. One of the ads — featuring a woman in emerald green shorts and a yellow knit top — appears on the front page of the Evening Standard in anticipation of the sale, which begins on Wednesday. It’s not the first time Harvey Nichols has drawn fire for its ad campaigns. The latest Christmas campaign showed a series of young women returning home in the early hours, disheveled after what appears to be a long night of partying, while in 2003 the Advertising Standards Authority asked the store to pull an ad for lipstick that showed a woman driver preparing to mow down a male pedestrian.
June 12, 2012