- High-end U.K. department store Selfridges unveiled a short film supporting its omnichannel Christmas advertising campaign, per details shared with Marketing Dive. "Future Fantasy: A Christmas for Modern Times" — what Selfridges bills as a "rare foray" into film advertising — aims to contrast with typical holiday marketing efforts through an edgy, abstract approach to storytelling.
- The two-minute short features a diverse cast of more than 60 people, including the musician Miguel, Dior Homme Creative Director Kim Jones and Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wiley. Actor Noomi Rapace stars as the guide through a dinner party set in a house stylized for the far future of 3019, with her journey narrated, in ad-libbed voiceover, by rapper and actor Little Simz.
- "Future Fantasy" was directed by Nabil Elderkin and is based on a concept by American artist Daniel Arsham. The creative extends Selfridges' prior work with Arsham on The House, an activation at the retailer's Oxford Street Corner Shop that displayed and sold the artist's work. Selfrdiges will screen the new film online and at Piccadilly Circus starting today, along with showing an extended director's cut exclusively at Selfridges Cinema on Nov. 22.
The holiday season is competitive for retailers across the board, but U.K. brands have carved out their own niche for marketing in the category. There are certain staples of the genre embodied in overtly sentimental, wholesome seasonal spots made popular by marketers like John Lewis. Selfridges is deliberately breaking with that model to modernize its messaging.
"Future Fantasy" features a racy clubbing sequence and political overtones through Wiley's inclusion, while still trying to preserve themes of family and unity associated with the season. The mix of ambassadors and cultural influencers indicates the retailer also has fashion-minded, higher spending young consumers like millennials in its crosshairs.
"Through Future Fantasy, we want to tell a traditional story in a non-traditional, future facing-way," Sebastian Manes, Selfridges executive buying and merchandising director, said in a press statement.
The strategy keeps in line with Selfridges' recent attempts to put somewhat off-kilter spins on holiday marketing. Amid an intense U.K. heatwave in July, the company — which typically opens its Christmas shop earlier than rivals — broke its own record by setting up the section a full 149 days before Dec. 25, according to the Guardian. The stunt saw Selfridges sell novelty items like tree decorations that displayed Santa paddle boarding in shorts and sunglasses.
Selfridges' performance suggests jumping on the holiday train early can pay off. Sales were up 10% at its flagship Oxford Street store in the 24 days leading up to Christmas last year, Women's Wear Daily reported. The retailer attributed the boost to a mix of exclusive product offerings and in-store activations.
Positive figures came despite a season that saw shoppers turning away from high-end brick and mortars to instead shop online. A generally weak holiday season closed out the worst year for U.K. retailers in more than a decade, according to Bloomberg.
While Selfridges doesn't usually use film in its advertising, other retailers have deployed the tactic more frequently amid a demand for glossy content marketing. To promote a collaborative line with high fashion house Erdem two years ago, H&M worked with "Moulin Rouge!" director Baz Luhrmann on a lavish four-minute short titled "The Secret Life of Flowers."