Lights! Camera! Gobbledegook! It's a perfume ad
I am words. But words do not define me. Nor paragraphs. Nor grammar. Nor. Punctuation. This is Eau de Column, par Hegarté
If I were to make a perfume ad, it would most likely feature a highly realistic scenario in which a man wandered around the intimidating jumble of beauty counters in a department store, sniffing thin strips of card until his nostrils were filled with a porridge of scents, and finally choosing a perfume for his partner based purely on who’s the best-looking saleswoman. This is just one reason why I don’t make perfume ads.
Until someone invents a way for viewers to run their wrists against the telly whenever perfume ads come on, and get little testers, the industry must instead continue to sell the “idea” of the perfume. Unfortunately, there appear to be only two ideas: rocks; and famous actresses running away.
Here are the rules of perfume ads.
Break convention(It’s the conventional way.) “In a world full of diktats and conventions, could there be another way?” asks the Julia Roberts ad for Lancôme’s La Vie Est Belle, before showing her escaping a cocktail-party prison, locking eyes with a stranger and doing the backward glance in a plunging-backline evening dress. The answer, then, appears to be no.
It is also worth mentioning the bloke who announces, “I’m not going to be what you expect me to be any more,” before the partition wall at his press conference collapses, injuring several journalists. Ironically, I expect him to be the most punchable person on television, and he hasn’t failed to match that expectation yet. (He is followed closely by that do-gooder cloud in the Guinness ad.)
It can be a mini-movie– or, more accurately, a movie that would be made using several million dollars, a movie star, a big-name director and the world view of a seven-year-old girl whose mother has given her permission to plunder whatever she wants from her wardrobe.
Flashbulbs!Every crunch, every white flare, is a bar in a prison from which the celebrity must escape by smelling nice. This is a metaphor, of course, although the perfume could also double as a mace substitute in case the original plan goes awry.
And . . . backward glance!Those featuring a well-known Hollywood actress should always involve her in evening wear, catching the eye of intrigued men and envious women as she escapes from purgatory’s endless cocktail party. And as she does so she must give at least one backward glance, to see if she’s being followed, to catch the reaction of those she has scandalised or because she has suddenly wondered if she has left her car keys behind. Going back to get them now will be awkward.
The dialogueBrad Pitt’s Chanel No 5 ad is the ne plus ultra of perfume scripts. “It’s not a journey. Every journey ends, but we go on. The world turns and we turn with it. Plans disappear, dreams take over. But wherever I go, there you are. My luck, my fate, my fortune. Chanel No 5. Inevitable.”
You’ve got to wonder whose head they were holding a gun to when Pitt agreed to read those lines. They were possibly written by several writers, each independent of the other but working on the same mission, like an anti-language terrorist cell. If you watch that ad with the sound down, however, your first thought is, KFC has really sexed up Colonel Sanders’s image”.
Stylise that sexHighly wrought, it should be played out by two models, in black and white, grinding against each other like people trying to find a comfortable spot on a doorknob-stuffed mattress.
Waves crashing against rocks!It shows the industry’s disconnect from the real world that this is seen as a refreshing, invigorating image for a perfume rather than representative of the real aroma of waves on rocks. That would be more like sticking your nose inside a decaying crab shell, and Lynx already has that market covered.
Don’t mention the priceThat’s because when you ask for the price of the average bottle of perfume, you will usually respond to the shop assistant’s answer with an eye twitch that signals your body’s failure to fully repress the impulse to spurt out, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Instead, you ask for the price of the smaller bottle, or just shove some samplers in your pocket before walking away quickly.
The name of the perfume being advertisedWho the hell remembers? I had to look all of them up on Google.