I’ll tell you what I don’t miss in January: The perfume ads.
As everyone knows, Christmas is an inflection point in the advertising industry. In the lead up to it, you are sold all these images of indulgence — in essence various metaphors representing being at It hammer and tongs.
Then after Christmas you are punished for this. Concerned women wince and we learn that they are bloated. A radio voiceover with just the right tone of bittersweet regret, promises to go to Weightwatchers or go for a run.
But at least we’ve no more perfume ads. I held my tongue on it before Christmas. It felt churlish then because you might have been planning to buy some and I didn’t want you to feel bad, but now is the time to say it: Perfume advertising has reached new heights of pure cod.
I think we can all tolerate a bit of black-and-white floaty mystery. A woman is walking away along a beach. A man is looking out to sea. There is a voiceover quoting Hemingway or one of those books that people have claimed to read. We don’t even know who’s getting the perfume at this stage.
But in recent years it’s become ridiculous. Johnny Depp is the worst example. He’s playing guitar on his own. Then he appears to say “feck this my guitar playing is cat malogen” and goes out into the desert and takes a shovel out of the boot of his car. I wonder should we be worried that he carries a shovel with him.
Maybe he’s a public spirited kind of fella that might stop the odd time to clear a blocked drain. He digs a hole in loose sand — which is the most impermanent of holes — and puts his jewellery into it. OK I get it, he’s divesting himself of worldly goods. But he’d have been better off selling the stuff on DoneDeal or Adverts so that he’d have enough money for the perfume.
And then it comes up and it says “Sauvage”. Savage. Which doesn’t translate well here because it just sounds as if Depp is saying “mighty!” or “class”.
Julia Roberts has been at it for a while as well. In Lancome’s “La vie est belle”, she’s at a party. Not the kind of party we go to — where it starts in the kitchen and you’re starving waiting for the cocktail sausages. It’s a party full of skinny people who don’t eat anyway. Ambassador’s children,
She notices everyone has strings attached to their arms. As if they were puppets! So she helps them and I presume us get rid of our puppet masters by cutting the strings and then manipulating us to buy perfume. And then she goes to look at the Eiffel Tower, fierce pleased with herself altogether.
Meanwhile Charlize Theron runs around a beach for Dior, sort of wrestling with herself.
I just can’t understand why anyone would be persuaded to buy perfume by these. I neither identify with nor aspire to be them. I’d much prefer to see Depp running around Brown Thomas in a panic saying to the slightly pinched-faced wan behind the counter “Would she like this jathink? Arra wrap it up to f*ck. It’ll do her grand.”
Or maybe we could go the other way — use perfume-style nonsense to sell things we really need:
….A woman, dressed only in an oversized man’s shirt, walks along a white corridor, sort of sideways. A man is sitting on a pier staring off towards the sea. It cuts back to the woman as she ponders a butterfly on her arm.
Back to the man who is now doing non-contact martial arts on a beach with an African friend. “Whisper my name” says the voiceover .Then fade to black. In small white writing it appears, in silence….
‘Slipper’ by Calvin Klein — And now is the time for slippers. I really think this idea has legs.