Peter York On Ads: P Diddy getting down and dirty with Estée Lauder? That really is unforgivable

Every so often we have to return to the subject of beastliness of various kinds. Advertising doesn't often generate torrents of filth because advertisers are terribly careful. They don't want to upset anyone who might conceivably buy anything or the people who influence them.

And advertising agencies, despite their eagerness to get the Soho House Shore-ditch vibe, can't really live the full-on contemporary art life. The creative types soak up as much sensation as they can, watching cult videos that are blasphemous, explicit, unhygienic and – very occasionally – a bit political, knowing they'll have to reproduce the style without the content.

It took for ever for advertising to acknowledge some of life's basics. Women sometimes have periods. Men pee in rather careless ways. That a whole nameless world of secretions and discharges exists among otherwise perfectly nice people. Most of these bodily functions are handled with care by using basic computer animations to make the point, while sufferers from embarrassing illnesses are only ever shown fully dressed in cheerful woollens.

Advertising has also recently acknowledged, a) that women have urges too, b) that unnatural sex types exist too, and c) that people are sometimes cynical and a bit short-termist in their relationships. In other words, the real themes of the mildest stand-up from the late Eighties.

In the past, women's urges were dealt with by making them comic or cartoon-y. The unnatural sex thing was originally signposted by stereotypes that would have looked overdone in 'Kiss of the Spider Woman'. More recently it's become a boys-just-wanna-have-fun alternative lad thing. As for lesbians, they don't exist except in Sarah Waters dramas on the BBC. Flirting with shock effects happened in those public sector don'ts – don't drink, smoke, catch Aids, etc – not usually in the area of calculated offence and PR-led controversy.

In the past, if an expensive campaign was "banned" from TV there was nowhere else to go. Now with the web, it's a strategic option: launch a TV ad that's bound to be withdrawn swiftly and let the media coverage and the social network showings do the work for you without spending the media money.

Is that what Sean John – the brand currently used by rap artist P Diddy to sell celebrity merchandise – intended with its new Unforgivable Woman perfume ad? Launched in the US in September, the commercial is explicit in the way some MTV promos for US black music often are (not very and the words are very careful). But that's still surprising in TV adspace, where scent is mostly advertised in sexless romantic fashionista ways. Unforgivable Woman isn't like that. At all.

In this ad, it's clear that P Diddy and a model are about to get it on. They meet on the stairs and in a second he's hiking up her dress, cupping her breasts and pushing her against the wall. Sometimes she plays the game, sometimes she looks abused. She shows a lot more flesh than him. The precise flesh "tone", incidentally, is important in America, where the race line is even more of a tease than the misogyny theme. The girl is pale – a shade up from Halle Berry – but not actually white.

At Howard University – the proud, long-established black institution that he started but didn't finish – Diddy is reputed to have majored in marketing. Certainly, the sign-off voiceover is as regular 7th Avenue as they come. Not that surprising, given that Sean John Fragrances are part of Estée Lauder, the people who gave your mum Youth Dew and White Linen.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, Spanish, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Account Manager, London Bridge

£30,000 + 20K Commssion: Charter Selection: This rapidly expanding organisatio...

Content Manager - Central London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Central...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on