In November 1911 and March 1912, a group of about 100 suffragettes, led by Emmeline Pankhurst, smashed shop windows in London’s West End. Eight of them belonged to Harvey Nichols. This was the first of a number of window smashing campaigns to demonstrate that the government cared more about broken windows than a woman’s life. “The argument of the broken pane of glass,” Pankhurst told members of The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), “is the most valuable argument in modern politics.”
TBWA\London, Harvey Nichols’ ad agency (since March this year), has recreated that window smashing on the eve of London Fashion Week, to draw attention to the work that still needs to be done to achieve full equality for women.
A group of women was invited to smash two of Harvey Nichols’ windows with a crowbar – this time with less anger and more ceremony, plus a lot of cameras to spread the message. They included Dr Helen Pankhurst, author and great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst; journalist and TV presenter, Anita Rani; racing driver, Jamie Chadwick; blogger and author, Chidera Eggerue; tech entrepreneur and member of the Pxssy Palace Collective, Kesang Ball; entrepreneur and co-founder of The AllBright Members Club, Anna Jones; author and former nurse, Christie Watson; and a long-serving female staff member at Harvey Nichols, Jayshree Jogia.
The event was the second part of TBWA\London’s month-long female empowerment campaign, Let’s hear it for the girls, for Harvey Nichols.
“It’s actually about deeds not words,” Harvey Nichols’ group marketing and creative director, Deborah Bee, said of the event, quoting Emmeline Pankhurst.
“If you want a customer to come to your store, you really do have to genuinely want to do good things.”
The campaign had begun in the first week of September, when the retail icon was renamed as Holly Nichols. The name, Holly, had been chosen to represent all women and because it is similar to the word, Harvey, which is well known throughout the world. Unfortunately, that caused some backlash. People believed that the name of the female co-founder, Anne Harvey, had been erased. In fact, Benjamin Harvey began the company as a linen shop on the corner of Knightsbridge and Sloane Street in London in 1831. In 1841, he employed James Nichols. When Benjamin died in 1850, his wife, Anne Harvey, took over the business and went into partnership with Nichols, forming Harvey Nichols & Co.
The window smashing was also part of the Mayor of London and British Fashion Council’s #BehindEveryGreatCity initiative. Harrods and Fortnum & Mason have also dedicated windows to the campaign and suffragettes – though not by smashing them.
TBWA\London has been Harvey Nichols’ advertising agency since March this year, just weeks after bee was appointed, replacing long-serving agency, adam&eve DDB.