After Chapter, Neiman Marcus Hopes for Vacation ‘Magic’ in All-Digital Marketing campaign

What a difference a year makes.

Last October, luxury retailer Neiman Marcus unveiled its 2019 Christmas Book, a curated selection of almost 800 holiday gifts. Among these were its legendary Fantasy Gifts, a franchise whose 60th anniversary was celebrated at an event at the retailer’s then-new store at New York City’s Hudson Yards, with presents such as a 007 Aston Martin designed by Daniel Craig on display.

Fast forward to today: The U.S. economy has been crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic, its society riven by political and social strife, and Neiman Marcus has filed for Chapter 11, reorganized and emerged from bankruptcy. The process included closing its Hudson Yards store, among others, as well as 17 of its 22 Last Call stores; its two Bergdorf Goodman stores remain open.

It is against this backdrop—and daunting challenges facing all brick-and-mortar retailers across the country—that Neiman Marcus is unveiling its 2020 holiday campaign.

Not surprisingly, it is a continuation of its digital transformation strategy, underway before the pandemic. Featuring the theme “Make It Magic,” the campaign, which launches today, will be promoted on the retailer’s website, Hulu (a new partner) and YouTube, as well as social media and email.

A new spot, created in-house in 30- and 60-second versions, features five adults, a young girl and a dog cavorting in a contemporary home decorated with a large white Christmas tree and lights. They pass among themselves a small, rectangular white box, tied with a red ribbon, illuminated from within and trailing a stream of small, sparkling, white CGI stars. At the end of the spot, one of the men gives the box to one of the women; she appears overjoyed when she opens it and the two kiss.

“Neiman Marcus: Make it magic,” the ad says. “There’s magic in coming home, where memories (and mischief) are made. There’s magic in being together. There’s magic in giving … delighting everyone on your list. There’s magic in you.”

Darren “Daz” McColl, who was named Neiman Marcus’ interim chief marketing officer in January and was given the post permanently last week, said the campaign is “about intimacy, connection with family, bringing back traditions, bringing the magic to Christmas.” He said the retailer hopes to inspire people and enable them to “connect with the thoughtfulness of giving, the joy of spreading joy. These are moments we believe are really important.”

The retailer is also creating 10 different virtual holiday stories—the first being the spot launching today—which will be released through the end of 2020. It also will create some 55 additional pieces of content, such as editorial and gift advisor emails, to illustrate each story.

In addition to the digital campaign, each Neiman Marcus store will have a gift lounge where sales associates will show customers a curated selection of merchandise. The stores’ window displays also will illustrate the “Make It Magic” theme.

The retailer said it would offer some 3,000 holiday gifts. McColl said the gifts are “based on customer needs today, which have changed in the last 12 months.” Because of the pandemic, he said there is greater demand for leisurewear, shoes and handbags, and more shopping by men.

“Trends are not as predictable by season; they are way more fluid,” he added.

The campaign, McColl said, “is built around our customer, and recognizes a desire to come together this year, in whatever form it takes to connect, to enjoy traditions new and old in a magical way. The stories we tell throughout the season were developed to inspire, celebrate and bring the magic of Neiman Marcus to our customers, however they shop with us this season.”

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