Christmas Creative: A look at Tiffany & Co's shop window displays

It's the season to be merry, so The Drum decided to ask some creative marketing types from New York and London to go along and check out the window displays at some of both city's most famous department stores to hear what they made of their annual Christmas displays. First up is Elmwood's strategy director, Jessie McGuire who jumped at the opportunity to take a wander along to world famous jewellery store, Tiffany's & Co.

This holiday season, Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue is a study in hyper stimulation. Big, shiny, moving images dominate window treatments – from metallic art motifs at Bergdorf to a movie playing on the side of Saks.

At first glance, I thought Tiffany was doing the same. A giant snowflake suspends from the building into the middle of Fifth Avenue, and the building is adorned with bright, sparkling, bursting jewels.

But the windows paint a very different picture that evokes a simpler time – when people met in person, when cabs were the way to get around, when families spent time together and couples got engaged without cell phones and selfies.

In one, a couple stands arm in arm before a jewel display in a Tiffany window. Then there are couples skating hand in hand under the tree in Rockefeller Center. There’s a yellow cab, trunk overflowing with signature blue boxes, rolling slowly past the skyline under a crescent moon. And then there’s a male same-sex couple on a couch with a child roasting marshmallows over an open fire.

The images are delicate. Instead of reaching out to grab me, they drew me in gently and invited me to slow down and really look inside. They are more like shadow boxes than big store windows, and I have to get up close to engage with the detail. The characters are more like Pixar animation figures than models. They are sweet, and their settings are whimsical, almost magical.

The more I looked, the more I saw. Rings and pendants adorn the tops of the building in the windows, and a bracelet rolls alongside the skaters in the rink. The taxi rolls slowly. These little motions piqued my curiosity.

And then I got a close look at the couple with child. It’s two men, arm in arm on a couch, with son toasting marshmallows. It seems to complete a confident statement that romance can be magical and love happens to us all. Importantly, they didn’t hit me over the head with the same-sex message; they just expanded the timeless by-the-fire ideal into 2014.

I went inside to see if they continued that last statement. They didn’t. The décor is consistent in framework – sophisticated yet whimsical – with jewels themselves doing the sparkling. Similarly, images and a vignette online carry the style, palette and charm. But neither really pays off on the powerful feeling of inclusion.

I couldn’t help wishing they’d take the theme of modern romance a step further, maybe with a handicapped or elderly couple. But then I realized they are likely dipping their toe into a big pool, conscious that too big a statement would overwhelm a brand that is, above all, delicate.

Tiffany strikes a fine balance between exclusivity and accessibility. They sell million-dollar diamonds that few can afford but everyone wants to see. Yet as a teenager I was able to give my mother a $100 bracelet in a little blue box that made us both feel special.

Tiffany’s holiday design managed to plant that feeling of special in me. It only got more pronounced in contrast as I took in the rest of Fifth Avenue. It felt appropriate. The brand that stands for romance found a way to say the ideal can happen for us all.

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