Harvey Nichols is one of the relatively few retailers striving to stand out through its advertising.

After its successful tongue-in-cheek Walk of Shame adverts that ran at Christmas time, it seems to have decided that treading the fine line between humour and controversy is the way it wants to go.

Retail adverts rarely lean towards the creative, attention-grabbing side. But Harvey Nichols has joined retailers such as John Lewis and Burberry by producing material that interests people, stoking debate online and generating interest on social networks, such as Twitter.

Whether it interests them for the right reasons is perhaps debatable. The press ads depict male and female models looking as slick as you would expect of those in a luxury retailer’s advert. But their sharp image is marred by the fact that they appear to have wet themselves with excitement over the Harvey Nichols Sale, paired with the tag line ‘Try to contain your excitement’.

The juxtaposition of the usually imperfection-free models with an unfortunate personal hygiene issue is quite shocking when you first look at the images, but it does successfully communicate the message the department store wants to convey.

There has been negative feedback, with some calling it crass and not in keeping with the high-fashion image of the department store. But whether these observers like the image or not, it’s certainly done what it set out to do – plenty of people are talking about the Harvey Nichols Sale.