5 perfume ads that worked and why

What are the ingredients that compose a successful perfume advertisement?

One would say a breathtaking scenic location, while another would put forward an argument that a good TV commercial needs a well-narrated story. Some want the highest-grossing Hollywood celebrity in the finest gowns, but others are happy to look at a half-naked male body swinging to Lana del Ray’s voice by the pool.

If you see a 30-second clip about a product that makes you sit on the edge of your seat in wonder and awe, means the director has hit the bullet in the head. Even thought there are commercials that make you gasp out loud, there are also the ones that make you run to your nearest departmental store to make a purchase.

We have already spoken about the most controversial perfume advertisements this industry has seen, to an extent of placing a ban on them.

But among the suggestive and provocative group of adverts lies a family of perfume commercials that are intelligent, effective, beautifully photographed and loved by the advertisement watchdogs.

Let’s take a look at the top five perfume ad campaigns from the past decade that got it all right, almost.

miss dior cherie ad

Chanel No.5

Trust Baz Luhrmann to recreate theatrical romance for his television audience with the same intensity, passion and sensuality; also doing it all in three minutes, only.

There was a time when advertisement directors aspired to work in movies, but Luhrmann turned the rule around. This extravagant and comprehensive advert fetched its lead actor, Nicole Kidman, a bulging amount of $42 million for her 180-second appearance. But putting money aside, this mini-film titled No 5 became the poshest and shiniest advertisement to hit small screens in 2004.

It trails the life of a megastar, portrayed by Kidman, who deals with her manic life in the underline of fame and paparazzi attention. She meets an average Joe from the street who doesn’t recognise her, and sweeps Kidman away atop the Chanel hill, literally.

There’s almost no mention of a fragrance or the effects of a scent in the mini-film, as one would expect. However, it does translate the happiness and joy Chanel brings into the maddened life of the movie star. When she’s with her middle-class lover on the hill, she is content and willing to peep into her life away from the prominence. If a fashion house can link back to its brand’s aesthetics through tulle gowns, pearls and a perfume advertisement – then why the hell not?

Madame by Jean Paul Gaultier

Jean Paul Gaultier knows how to make a woman feel empowered, be it with his runway collections or perfume advertisements. Anything that has Gaultier stamped on it comes with a sense of attitude, authority and strength.
For his fragrance, Madame, Gaultier used Agyness Deyn to reflect on the powerful androgyny of the fragrance. Deyn is strong, confident and isn’t afraid to rip her pants off and chop her locks in public. The advertisement caters to the feminist clan in the world, proving that you don’t need a colourful video with hot male bodies doing provocative moves to sell a fragrance. Guess that worked for Gaultier.

Dior J’adore

When this advertisement was released, the industry got more excited about seeing historical icons make a comeback, than the beauty of a star from present times.

Using typical ingredients of technology, nostalgia and glamour, Dior cleverly brought back a classic scent into the advertising limelight. Dior paid homage to Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich with the help of Charlize Theron and J’adore parfum.

This is one of those videos that you’ll have to replay several times to clearly understand what’s happening. It captures the decadence of living a Hollywood life, the hairspray-laden cramped area backstage at a fashion show and also the frantic energy on the catwalk.

Just when you see Theron walk down the runway in a sparkly gold gown, looking like a J’adore bottle in motion, and whispering, “J’adore Dior”, you are suddenly reminded of what you were really watching.

Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue

The effect puppies and cute babies have on an advertisement, are similar to the kind shirtless men have; must be well built and oiled, though.

We see a ridiculously good-looking couple, stranded on a raft, surrounded by sparkling turquoise blue water; Dolce & Gabbana have hit all the right chords of sex and desire with this advertisement. It’s not too sexy, but also not too subtle for the likes of Italian minds and their sexual desires.

The concept is clear: a buff man, wearing only an underwear (of course!), is aroused by the lady love sitting opposite him, who is wearing a white button-down shirt drenched in water. He leans his oiled body over to kiss model Marija Vujovic, and they make passionate love in the midst of the sea.

The scenic backdrop is the asset for this advertisement, the models are its props, and Light Blue is the driving source. It’s understandable that two are attracted to each other because they’re wearing the perfume and cologne. But the simplicity in the idea and its uncomplicated execution is what works for this advertisement.

We can almost see every man and woman, reading this, sprinting to the shops to purchase this perfume; especially, if it ensues this level of love-making.

Miss Dior Cherie

Another French favourite, this advertisement from 2009 inspired editorials, photoshoots and women’s wardrobes, at the time it was released. As model Maryna Linchuk breezes through the quaint streets of Paris on her bicycle, to the upbeat tunes of a Bridget Bardot song, she gobbles down strawberry tarts and takes a cute fluffy puppy for a walk.

The advertisement, directed by Sophia Cappola, almost mocks at everyone not living in Paris, as it portrays the perfect French lifestyle, topped with vintage Dior gowns and cute Parisian boys. Despite the national cliché captured in the video, it still makes you want to taste that perfection, that carefree and pastel-toned romanticised life.

The print advertisement for the second edition Miss Dior Cherie L’eau (pictured above) also has a feel-good quality attached to it. The Eiffel Tower and the low-lying buildings of Paris as a backdrop have its own obvious advantages, but the visual pleasure lies in seeing the model hold on to a bunch of helium balloons. If an advertisement can make you dream of a life similar to the one seen in the campaign, it means the mission is successful.

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