I have an interest in advertising so I will usually try to grasp the meaning behind most ads. Yet perfume ads often leave me as clueless as everyone else. Most of the time this is kind of a self-inflicted confusion as I refuse to defend something which is that loaded with pretence.
Your regular perfume ad will contain the following features : A sexy man or woman or both, having sex or hinting heavily at just having had sex, not so much in love with each other as with themselves, tend to look like they’ve just been heavily tranquilized but this may be because they’re just so drained from being passionate all the time. There is usually very little dialogue but the dialogue that does exist is vague, nonsensical and tends to side more with a ramble than a script, almost like it could have been good if it was written in French but someone who’s not very good at French has translated it somewhat crudely into English.
Take this Brad Pitt Chanel No 5 ad for example:
I remember reading that perfume as a product is very hard to represent in advertising. You buy perfume for it’s smell but smell can’t be communicated visually and what exactly it is that something smells like is usually quite subjective.
It’s not really a product that could ever be referred to as a necessity, it’s a luxury item and always will be.
It is for these reasons that we are left with the above mess of communication in which Keira Knightly moves at unparalleled speed towards her motorbike to avoid getting with the man she worked so hard to seduce for a whole 20 seconds. It would make more sense if she put a tiny bag of crack in her jacket rather than the perfume, her actions would seem far less erratic.
I understand that perfume ads can’t really be witty or funny because funny or witty don’t smell sexy but mysterious and possibly high do. I get that but I just don’t see why they have to be so…. dangerously smoldering and weird :
The only good that has come from these ads are the satirical rip-offs and this great campaign by Ambi Pur :
So overall, I suppose at the very least perfume ads are ridiculous but entertaining. I understand the challenges faced by those who have to advertise such a difficult product but nothing, nothing excuses the ad below:
Shut up Scarlett Johansson/ the writers of this ad; sunshine does not have a smell, no one is inspired by the wind and as much as you try to write short, sexy responses, Scarlett Johansson will never be Marilyn Monroe.
Bitter rant complete.