Ok Perfume Ads, You Have My Attention

Perfume brand luxury branding agency

Something seismic is happening in these key months leading up to Christmas, as ads are building their predicted annual assault on the senses.

Perfume ads are changing, from gorgeous but dull spectacles of untouchable beauty – think Ms Theron dressed up in Gold and Keira Knightly in beige leather – to a raw and much more interesting proposition.

Dior’s latest ad for Miss Dior features Natalie Portman having a domestic ‘I love you’… ‘Prove it!’ altercation, then jumping off a pier to an uplifting soundtrack of Sia’s ‘Chandelier’, followed by lots of running, smiling, doughnut-ting and general emoting. The payoff is delivered challengingly to the viewer: ‘What would you do for love?’

And Chanel’s new Gabrielle fragrance ad featuring actor Kristen Stewart embodies the joy of physicality and freedom in a dream like world to the rising beat of Beyoncé’s ‘Running’. Cue pared back makeup and costume, relatable androgyny and bare feet. Life is too short to wear high heels it seems.

It’s time for a change

Dove’s pioneering evergreen Campaign for Real Beauty broke ground 13 years ago, taking on the hypocrisy of the beauty industry and creating one of the biggest campaign success stories of all time. But recent high-profile brand missteps (launching new, over simplified and all white body-shaped bottles and an ad stoking breastfeeding controversy) have started to erode Dove’s core brand message.

Its surely a sign that we are ready for a more multifaceted view of what it means to be a woman today (with messy emotions and desires and all).

When personal care taps into a very present and conscious need to feel good, perfume operates on an entirely subconscious level, which can make it even more powerful.

I applaud this new direction and hope to see more. It surely demonstrates an understanding of the different values of the younger Gen Z audiences, 87% of who believe it’s important to experiment, even if you make mistakes and are developing a keen sense of personal identity from a young age.

And if ever there was a sign it was time to move on, then the standard perfume ad being so brilliantly spoofed by McDonald’s in their latest Signature range ad, is it.


* Source: McCann Truth About Youth – Study with over 30k respondents (2017)