See what you cannot smell

“To the uninitiated, discovering a perfume from a list of its raw materials is like reading the ingredients for a cooking recipe with all the frustration of not being able to imagine what the dish would taste like; images seem to create more of an echo in us and speak more fully to our senses. Marketing people understand this perfectly. Seeing advertisements has never meant being able to smell the perfume; at the every best it elicits a desire to smell it: such are the strengths and limitations of the exercise.”  – Jean-Claude Ellena, The Diary of a Nose – A Year in the Life of a Perfumer, 7 December 2009)

Print advertisements for perfumes run the gamut of flowery, sexy, arty, luxurious and shocking, and often rely on a famous face to catch the reader’s attention. Sometimes the ads have very little to do with what the perfume smells like. But it is like Ellena said – it’s about creating a desire. TV commercials are even more atmospheric and inviting, like mini-films, complete with plots and famous actors. Here are a few famous/infamous print ads:

“Anyway”, by Juliette Has a Gun. I have no idea what the ostrich has to do with it.
“Tuscan Scent”, by Salvatore Ferragamo. This works for me – I can almost smell the warm, winey, citrusy notes.
Model Sophie Dahl posing in an ad for “Opium”, by Yves Saint Laurent. It caused a huge uproar and was banned. It is clear why.
Yes, the bottle looks like Windex. It’s the 2015 Moschino “Fresh” eau de toilette by Jeremy Scott, with Linda Evangelista as the face of the new scent.
“Le Jardin de Monsieur Li” (The Garden of Mr. Li), by Hermés Paris. The ad brings you closer to the vision of Jean-Claude Ellena, the perfumer (below).

“I remembered the smell of ponds, the smell of jasmine, the smell of wet stones, of plum trees, kumquats, and giant bamboos. It was all there, and in the ponds there were even carp steadily working towards their hundredth birthday.”—Jean-Claude Ellena, Master Parfumeur, describing Le Jardin de Monsieur Li”.

And for pure eye candy, there is this TV ad of model Tiiu Kuik for Dior’s J’Adore, dripping with gold like the (dead) Bond Girl “Jill Masterson” in Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger, with Barry White singing sexily in the background. It certainly spells out “desire”, but desire for what!?

And on a lighter note…

These dramatic and often very expensive ads get ripped off fairly often, as with the campaign for Ambi Pur toilet gel, by ad agency Grey, 2009, which aired in Australia. Nice smelling toilet cleaner never looked like this!


%d bloggers like this: