An image from Barneys New York's philanthropy-first holiday campaign.

The concept of a single coin or small change can seem insignificant in the world of luxury, but Barneys New York is hoping that it can make a big difference with the lowly penny as the star of its holiday campaign.

Presented for the first time by the Barneys New York Foundation, the luxury retailer’s holiday campaign, launching on Nov. 15, in window displays and immersive in-store experiences will feature cold, hard pennies wrapped in a soft cashmere blanket of feel-good charitable giving.

The Barneys New York Foundation introducing holiday advertising and marketing, “really sets the tone for the overall campaign,” said Tomm Miller, executive vice president of communications and marketing.

“We do huge product-driven installations with artists for the holiday season. Only after that part is established, do we develop the philanthropical piece,” said Matthew Mazzucca, creative director of Barneys New York. “I wanted to start with the philanthropical piece and build around that. While it’s never an afterthought, we wanted to lead with the Barneys Foundation. We wanted to make it the hero.”

Making Change, the theme of Barneys’ 2018 holiday campaign, a partnership with Save the Children, carries the message that even small change can have a big impact, and that it all starts with a coin.

The retailer converted some of its budget for the holiday campaign into actual coins and pennies that will be used in window displays and interactive signs in stores. The coins will become a donation to Save the Children when the campaign ends.

Phrases such as “Make Change” and “Change Matters” will be set against a wall of pennies in the Madison Avenue windows, where displays, along with interactive storewide designs — made from coins, invite customers to participate.

“The windows are die-cut vinyl and installations with a series of thousands of pennies behind the glass. Initially, we were going to do piles of pennies,” Mazzucca said. “Every store has its own version. We looked at a lot of different ways to tell the story. A lot is graphic driven [by the way artist] Barbara Kruger uses type to express a message.”

Barneys New York on Nov. 15 will launch the hashtag, #centiments as part of its social media campaign featuring positive and inspirational holiday sentiments and sayings such as cent-sational, cent-sitive and cent-ilating, to which shoppers can add their own two cents. For every post to #centiments with @barneysny, the Barneys New York Foundation will donate $5 to Save the Children through Jan. 1.

The Madison Avenue and Beverly Hills flagships will feature an infinity room with copper sculptures. “It feels like the bottom of a wishing well with the slogan, ‘Wishing you well,'” said Mazzucca, adding that the Self Portrait Project facilitates hands-free photos and digital sharing. “We have science fair vortexes where you can throw a dollar or coin into the funnel.”

Barneys New York stores nationwide will also have activations throughout the season to encourage donations to Save the Children.

“We used the vernacular you see in currency — monuments and monolithic ideas,” Mazzucca said. “We have minimalist columns where we added fluted columns in saccharine sweet pinks. We have bean bag chairs for lounging in marble-printed fabrics, and lots of images of hands with coins in them. We wanted to be reductionists and keep everything about the project two-dimensional.”

“You can’t really argue with Save the Children,” Mazzucca said. “It’s the foundation of development. It’s how we equip people to be decision-makers and leaders. Education and a diverse outlook on things are great things in which to invest.”

While Mazzucca avoided citing the toxic political atmosphere as an impetus for the holiday campaign, he said, “A diverse outlook is important. It’s a difficult time for adults to face the day-to-day obligations in their lives, but it must be even more difficult for children to be immersed in this culture. That’s an acknowledgement of the oversaturation we’re experiencing. It’s hard for a child to be inundated with things that can be divisive and separate them.

“We created a culture where information comes through all forms of media. There’s huge access to media for children of every age and parents aren’t necessarily able to keep them away from this. What does the future look like and how do we exist and coexist?” Mazzucca said, adding that Save the Children teaches understanding and empathy to children on a national level.

In addition to the social giving campaign, a Save the Children public service announcement will feature an as-yet undisclosed celebrity ambassador.

“Giving back has always been an important part of the Barneys New York DNA, and education one of the pillars of our Barneys New York Foundation,” Miller said. “This holiday season, we’re proud that Make Change will bring the spirit of change to everything from window displays to social media and support Save the Children’s work with children across the country.”

Asked for a projection for Save the Children, Mazzucca said, “We’re still looking at what that number is.”

Miller had statistics from the organization at the ready, including 14 million children live in poverty in the U.S., 60 percent of children living in poverty have no books in their homes, and children who grow up in poverty are 18 months behind their peers by the time they enter Kindergarten.

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