Wait - Holly what? That’s right, after 187 years in business as Harvey Nichols we’ve decided to change our brand name to Holly Nichols. To understand the message and purpose behind it, we sat down with our new Head of Brand, Press and Marketing, Alistair, one of the team who has been working on the campaign. Alistair lets us pick his brain and spills the beans on what may be one of the most bold retail statements of the season and tells us a bit about his background.
Welcome to Harvey Nichols! Tell us about yourself?
Thank you! Well, after my degree I moved to London to do an MA in Fashion Journalism at Central Saint Martins. After I left, I was doing some freelance writing and was asked to help out at some fashion shows, so I fell into it really. The first show I worked on was McQueen, so it couldn’t have been a much better start. Then I worked for a couple of communication’s agencies, before landing my first role in retail at Selfridges and then later at Harrods, where I met Deb. I have a real love of retail and department stores as a whole – to this day, I still get such a buzz just walking through the doors. To be honest, I’ve been keeping an eye out for this role at Harvey Nichols for some time, as I’ve always really admired the brand, so I feel extremely fortunate to be here.
What’s your job all about?
Where to start? The press side of my role is really about how we work with the media and what messages we want to promote externally to the press to increase our visibility as a business and brand. It's how we go about getting the brand perceived in the best way possible through media coverage and how we get them to write about us. Then the marketing side of things is working strategically about how we communicate and engage with our customers, what campaigns we want to deliver to support business objectives and what we want to promote, which would be a new department, fantastic exclusive brand or the sale. But ultimately it’s about driving footfall, customer acquisition and sales. I work as part of a wider team that covers everything from creative, CRM, events, media sales to social media, so in my role, I work with all of the teams to ensure we’re operating as one unit.
Tell us about the September campaign, your first campaign for HN?
With everything we’ve got going on in September, it couldn’t have been a better time to join the business. The September campaign is all about female empowerment, celebrating the centenary of women in the UK getting the right to vote, and highlighting our unique womenswear offer on our new first floor and across the business. Changing our name to Holly Nichols is really marking this occasion and celebrating women we admire.
What are your thoughts on “Holly Nichols”?
I think it’s very exciting, innovative and that Harvey Nichols is the only brand that could carry off a campaign like this. Once again, we’re doing something different and pushing boundaries of what’s expected of a retail brand. The fact we’re not only changing the sign, but our carrier bags, email signatures, receipt holders and social media logos, to name a few, shows that we’re doing it with real authority. Combined with all of the activity we’ve got planned for the month really makes it an immersive campaign that we’re sure our customers will really respond to.
What else gets your heart racing?
Next to working on campaigns like this, I still get a real kick out of seeing great editorial coverage when I’m reading a magazine or newspaper. I read pretty much everything I can get my hands on, as at this point in my career it’s second nature and if you’re dealing with the media you need to, so it’s great when our brand is mentioned, especially if it’s in something authoritative like FT How to Spend It or the Times. Although I must admit, and at the risk of sounding old fashioned, I still much prefer print over digital. I also really enjoy working with my team and watching them develop. It’s massively satisfying seeing team members deliver work that sometimes they didn’t think they were capable of and how it increases their confidence to go onto greater heights.
What do you believe your secret is to making it this far in the fashion and PR/Marketing industry?
Build relationships with integrity. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves to get things done. Remember to laugh. And don’t be too hesitant of doing things differently – there is more than one way to skin a cat!
Excited? Keep an eye out on all the things we’ve got in store for you this month and make sure to pay Harvey – we mean Holly – Nichols a visit soon!