It's not very often that you hear the phrase, "poor Brad," but after last week's airing of the film noir ad for Chanel No. 5 starring Brad Pitt, not-a-little sympathy is in the air – especially after Saturday Night Live and Conan O'Brien had a run at him. Finding the ad abstruse and esoteric, the first male spokesperson for the perfume was skewered by these comedians in skits that mocked pretentious advertising as much as it did Brad.
Brad's fans, completely content to stare at his perfection no matter what the cheese-factor, are playing it and sharing it and playing it again on FB pages throughout the land. And, not to forget, rumor on the street has it that Mr. Handsomest Man Alive made $7 million for his efforts. As it's been well-documented that Mr. Pitt has an excellent sense of humor, especially for pranks, we suspect he has taken it just fine.
The question is, how about Chanel No. 5?
There is a reason that this is the first male to front for one of the most iconic perfume brands in the world. Men selling perfume is a tricky thing. In the past, brands like Windsong and Incognito used men effectively in their perfume advertising, but always with women who were indulging in applying the scent. These men were guest stars in the show that was all hers.
Our research has shown that when women buy fragrance the strongest driver is how the fragrance makes them feel, with the reaction it gets from others less important. For women, scent is a personal experience first – so the way the brand visualizes their sensory experience in advertising is key. That's why any abstraction is tough on a perfume brand. And ads don't get much more abstract that Brad's debut for Chanel No. 5, shot in black and white, in an empty room.
It remains to be seen what's next from this iconic brand. Founded by one of the strongest personalities in fashion, Coco Chanel, who believed in lovers not husbands, the brand might want to revisit its creative approach. In short: get Brad a girl. We're thinking that is the easy part.