The ad came top of a study by Realeyes, which tracked facial expressions to measure how people felt when they were watching different ads.
Almost 1,500 people took part in the study, watching 30 different Christmas ads.
The results were complied from webcam footage of over 11.5 million frames of facial expressions. The scores are a combined measure of how well an ad grabs the viewers’ attention, keeps it, and whether it leaves a lasting impression.
Harvey Nichols beat competition from the likes of Kwik Fit’s "Santa surprise", which came second, and Currys PC World’s "secret Santa" ad, featuring Jeff Goldblum, which came third.
John Lewis’ "man on the moon" ad took seventh place, and was beaten by Aldi’s spoof "telescope" version of the ad. Last year John Lewis’ "Monty’s Christmas" ad took the top spot.
Mihkel Jäätma, the chief executive of Realeyes, said: "John Lewis remains the undisputed champion for publicity and hype but in terms of connecting emotionally with consumers, many brands outdid it this year.
"Harvey Nichols, Kwik Fit and Currys did brilliantly because they were about situations we’ve all been in."
As well as taking the top spot this year, Harvey Nichols retains the honour of producting the most engaging Christmas ad ever tested by Realeyes: the 2013 Christmas ad, "sorry, I spent it on myself".
This year’s campaign, created by Adam & Eve/DDB, shows a woman’s struggle to keep positive in the face of disappointing Christmas gifts. House of Fraser’s "your rules" campaign finished last out of the ads tested.
1. Harvey Nichols: "avoid gift face"
2. Kwik Fit: "Santa surprise"
3. Currys PC World: "secret Santa"
4. Mulberry: "miracle"
5. Vodafone: "Terry the turkey"
6. Aldi: "telescope" (John Lewis spoof)
= 7. John Lewis: "man on the moon"
= 7. Body Shop: "jingle bells"
9. McDonald’s: "journey to Christmas"
10. M&S Food: "taste of Christmas"