Travel Fantasy Flavors Neiman Marcus' Holiday Push

Neiman Marcus’ annual Christmas Book is in the mail, and fans of the 97-year-old tradition won’t be disappointed. It’s got the usual number of breathtaking baubles, fabulous fashion and one-of-a-kind gifts. Many of them – including the new holiday ad campaign -- are inspired by travel, and customers' desire to suit up for new adventures.

Themed “Neiman's Express,” the campaign take viewers on a fantasy train ride through 147 brands. “We want to make the customers feel the magic of Neiman Marcus, using the perfect blend of nostalgia with something modern and new,” says Nabil Aliffi, chief brand officer. “Starting with a classic train ride seemed like a great way to turn nostalgia on its head.”

He hopes the campaign, including the video directed by the Scandebergs, will inspire the kind of fantasy that helps people shape their holiday shopping list, he tells Retail Insider.

Travel is more than just a campaign metaphor – Neiman shoppers are on the move. “Customers are more open to travel right now. And getting ready for a trip is one of the many reasons our customers come to us,” Aliffi says.

Many luxury brands come across as chilly and elitist, but this effort aims to convey plenty of warmth. The catalog, for example, is sprinkled with models posing with animals – a swan, a chicken, a swarm of dachshunds and an alpaca, to name a few.

“Neiman Marcus people – our customers and associates -- are very happy people,” he says. “We like to celebrate, and at Christmas especially, that means elements of optimism, humor and whimsy.”

Both the campaign and the catalog also play a bit younger. “We hope to speak to younger audiences using this modern lens," Aliffi says. But it’s also something you can enjoy with your parents and grandparents.”

He points out that many of the fantasy gifts this year also include an element of travel. The priciest this year, at $975,000, is a one-of-a-kind, hand-built and all-electric Cadillac.

There’s also a yachting treasure hunt. For $485,000, people can spend nine days exploring the islands of Indonesia, looking for high-end jewelry. Or for $210,00, they can head to Paris for the Olympic Games, tagging along with Ralph Lauren and Team USA.

There’s also a behind-the-scenes tour of New York City's American Ballet Theater, with a walk-on role in a production, for $195,000, as well as a jewelry jaunt to Cannes, and a design experience in Milan.

Perhaps the most fanciful is from Walt Disney Animation Studios. For $510,000, it will provide a tour of the Burbank studios, then turn the buyer into an animated character in a short video.

The Disney package ties into a wish-themed holiday tree in the Beverly Hills store, with a specialty cocktail (Big Wishes), a mocktail (Little Wishes), and a specialty dessert in restaurants to celebrate the tie-in, linked to Disney’s 100th birthday celebration.

Each fantasy gift also has a philanthropic component, including donations to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The over-the-top fantasy gifts are all part of the retailer’s efforts to “establish Neiman Marcus as the place you come to dream a little bit bigger,” Aliffi says.

Bringing consumers deeper into the world of Neiman Marcus is an ongoing challenge, especially for those younger shoppers who can so easily explore luxury brands through many digital channels.

To bring shoppers into its physical stores, the retailer plans to host more than 500 events, from Breakfast with Santa, White Elephant parties and trunk shows. It's also introducing a Magic Maker series, an engagement campaign offering behind-the-scenes glimpses into how its stylists work.

“We know our customers may browse elsewhere, but we've made shopping easy for you when you come to us because we know you,” says Aliffi. “We know your tastes, preferences and favorite brands.”

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