Advertising: Throwing us off the scent
Wednesday 17 December 1997
We see a close-up of the face of a delicate-featured young woman. Her peaches-and-cream complexion is framed by chestnut hair. She is softly lit and dressed in white, or pink, or cream - it doesn't matter, really, as the desired effect is the same: ageless, timeless beauty.
The camera cuts to a close-up of five pink roses standing in a row, all soft and fragrant. Then back to the woman whose expression has changed. Now she looks vaguely concerned. In fact her right eye is welling. Whether this is with emotion or due to an untimely outbreak of hay fever, it's hard to say.
Luckily, relief is at hand. Literally. A man's arm comes into view, his hand reaching towards her cheek. Sadly, he's forgotten the tissue but he does gently cup her face. She smiles. Delicately. Tresor from Lancome. It's the perfume of treasured moments, you see. Or maybe you don't. Because let's face it, the image is daft and says next to nothing about the product - like whether it's light and grassy, or deep and musky.
Not that you can blame, Publicis, the multinational advertising agency behind the ad. Much. Created in Paris, this commercial (like most for French-made fragrances) must work internationally. Images must therefore be universally translatable - no complexities like character-isation or dialogue, here - and guaranteed not to cause offence. Trouble is, the end result for many is bland and uniform. Or just plain nonsense.
Take another ad currently on air for the classic fragrance, Chanel No 5. A beautiful couple stroll along a beach. The lighting is soft and watery- looking. Their clothes white, or pink or cream. She hears a sound and turns to see an orchestra rise out of the sea, mid-serenade. She laughs (a little too hard) and continues her stroll. The man walks on oblivious.
US-made fragrances have attempted to break this mould. cKone has played up cult and androgyny. It's about attitude and individualism rather than pastel-coloured emotion. Which is a relief, but equally nonsensical. Take Hugo Boss for Women: "Innovate don't imitate," grins the blonde with the gap-toothed grin. Of course we will, dear - by all wearing the same brand as our men.
Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas
Life & Style blogs
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
- 2 Isis release 'Flames of War' video warning Obama of attacks troops could face in Iraq
- 3 Pakistani passenger power forces two politicians off plane
- 4 Say yes to 'no-poo': It's been three years since I stopped washing my hair
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...
£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...