It's not very often that you hear the phrase "poor Brad Pitt," but after last week's airing of the film noir ad for Chanel No. 5 starring the well-known actor, more than a little sympathy is in the air—especially after Saturday Night Live and Conan O'Brien had a run at him. Finding the ad obtuse and esoteric, comedians skewered the ad featuring the perfume's first male spokesperson in skits that mocked pretentious advertising as much as it did Pitt.
Pitt'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 Facebook pages throughout the land. And, not to forget, rumor on the street has it that the once “Sexiest Man Alive,” as dubbed by People magazine, made $7 million for his efforts. As it's been well-documented that Pitt has an excellent sense of humor, especially for pranks, we at Brand Keys suspect he has taken it just fine.
The question is, how about Chanel No. 5?
There is a reason that Pitt 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.
Brand Keys' 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 Pitt'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.