26 novembre 2012

The new J'Adore commercial

From the 70s onwards, perfume advertising has virtually ceased to show the scent, the details of the green world it comes from, the bottle or other fragrance-related suggestions and gradually began suggesting "parallel worlds" and exclusive experiences to be lived by spraying the fragrance on. D'you want to feel so cool to bath in a golden pool? Would you like to feel as a bright young man driving a fast car fast, or sunbathing almost naked in his pool? Would you like to be on holidays in the Mediterranean? Want to be part of a tribe made up of lean, muscular, uber-trendy young adults? Or maybe you'd prefer feeling like a modern Cinderella invited to an exclusive party you go to dressed in a jaw-dropping designer dress?
Nowadays the focus has been shifted from the scent itself to the product-related experience. The message is "Spray Fragrance “X” and you'll instantly feel as good as if you're on a boat below the cliffs, next to a two-meter-tall hottie ready for mating
Who would ever dream of refusing such an offer?

Moving the focus from scent (ie, the essence) to product (ie, the set of perfume+bottle+box+advertising+brand) was necessary due to a reason we talked about many times: nobody can make predictions about which scent will sell good. The liking is very personal, depending both on cultural factors and pure subjectivity.
A Company investing million Euros to study, create and distribute a fragrance in 50 countries can't accept the risk of the fragrance not selling enough to back the investment and earn the expected  money.  So the Marketing Dept. is asked to spot the trend, the subject, the topic more sociologically "current", and turn it into a tv spot or ad. People are fed up of nuclear, pollution, synthetic foods? Then sell them the idea of nature, freshness and authenticity. People are scared by war? Sell them the idea of serenity and protection. People are terrified by the crisis, and fear bankruptcy? Sell the idea of luxury.  The scent is only there to convey the winning concept, which is translated into advertising images appealing the consumer. Today you don't spray a perfume but a brand, concept, a whole world of ideas.

Sometimes, celebrities have been called in. Sometimes the alchemy between scent and testimonial doubled the fascination, as with intense Isabella Rossellini and Tresor, or Estella Warren and Chanel N.5, or Vanessa Paradis and Coco, but despite stellar budgets, recently there were also unintentionally hilarious results: furious  Charlize Theron invading the catwalk as General Schwarzkopf would, a desolate Brad Pitt informing us that unfortunately that scent is really inevitable, not to mention Julia Roberts prey to mystical visions or Scarlett Johanson under hallucinogens, answering questions she doesn't even understand...

So, when I stumbled upon the new J'Adore spot,  I was took by surprise and I was moved. 
The spot is here, and I wish you take a look at it. 

As you'll notice, almost all the focus is on the perfume, the absolutes, the flowers, the sparkling elixir, the valuable work of the Master glassmaker... something new, refreshing, something unheard of before. So this morning I went to inquire.
From the website "The Reserve" (in italian) "Claude Martinez, from LVMH reveals the mystery:"In a world where fragrances seem all too commercial, too ephemeral, I think it's important for future generations to rediscover the scent is largely savoir-faire. It's an art, a craft involving artisans, not computer generated recipes. Perfumes are journeys, there are people who grew the flowers, other who mixed the ingredients, who made the glass" he told WWD." In short, there is a lot behind a fragrance. All this is told in a short film of 20 minutes, and in the 60 seconds version".

Mr. Martinez' statement would make me happy if it came from another source. But it comes from a Director of the French giant LVMH -owning Guerlain, Dior, Givenchy, Kenzo and others, which in the last ten years is giving its generous contribution to the progressive impoverishment of perfumery art- it sounds more like a joke. And being an expert in communication, I cannot help but track the communication strategy behind.

LVMH has realized that people begin to perceive its brands as mass-market: he himself says that "the fragrances seem too commercial, too ephemeral." Yes, they seem so, and sitting in shelves togehter with Lady Gaga's and Madonna's scents, doesn't add to their exclusive allure. Many customers used to wear Dior as the essence of Parisian style, but being mass-distributed -and what's worst, being mistreated and adulterated, depriving them of alla their beauty- they're falling into mass. Real luxury is being transferred into the exclusive boutiques of the brands, while in supermarkets you only have mass-produced goods, made with "computer generated recipes" Martinez mentions. Unfortunately, the mass will make you earn money if they don't identify themselves with mass, thus you've to convince them your products are precious, unique objects of beauty made for connoisseurs.
Hence the genius of focusing again on fragrance, in a luxurious and evocative way, going directly to the heart of the product to explain consumers what today looks as a "too commercial, too ephemeral" fragrance is actually a precious elixir prepared by artists-travelers under a starry sky in full moon nights.
I believe that bringing attention on the fragrance in the long run will pay: watching the movie I almost felt those velvety jasmines under my fingers, and I almost got into my nostrils the scent of tuberoses... a pleasure I was missing.
Kudo to Dior for this spot, I hope others will be inspired by it. Just... well, the communication strategy behind all this sounds a tiny bit  questionable to me.

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