Why perfume ads leave the public smelling bad
Jon Evans, Marketing Director of System1, wonders why fragrance ads are so weird. But maybe they’re not weird enough…
You can say a fragrance ad as soon as it starts. A top celebrity. An exotic place – the desert, a tropical paradise, an exclusive hotel. Smoldering looks, sudden changes and an impeccably obscure soundtrack. Maybe add a majestic animal for good measure.
Then, when you think it’s all over…they’ll whisper a phrase that’s poetic but without contextual meaning, like “truth”, “show your bold side” or “today is the day”, and we’ll be presented with a fancy- looking at the bottle at the end.
Boom – £10m, please.
This odd formula is standard for brands in the fragrance industry. In fact, it’s hard to imagine what an ad for a perfume would look like that didn’t follow this formula.
But while this particular pattern is the norm, our data shows us that fragrance ads often don’t resonate strongly with consumers.
Generally, the best advertisements are the spots that inspire us, make us laugh and take us on a journey, locked into a strong narrative.
And by testing thousands of consumer ads over the years, assessing emotional response to find out how the ads make people feel, we can safely say that fragrances just don’t fit the mold of “good.” advertising “. The only 5 star things about them are the hotels.
Maybe celebrities are enough?
Celebrities can help brands increase their efficiency if used in the right way because, at the end of the day, people like to see their favorite stars on their screens.
But fragrance ads often make a common mistake: giving too much importance to a celebrity’s face to face a campaign. When this is the case, the ad story often becomes an afterthought.
Brands splash these idols on screen like a teenager with their first bottle of cologne and hope that’s enough to stick. Yet, this can often result in the loss of the message. And ironically, the reason perfume ads are so weird comes down to a lack of imagination.
Making Johnny Depp… a rock star?
They think, ‘I have a big celebrity like Johnny Depp, how can we use him in a creative way?’ The recent Dior spot did just that, making him a mysterious “rockstar.”
Viewers were treated to an unusual sequence – Depp dramatically plays Wild Thing on his guitar, wolves jump up to see the rock god, then sniff his guitar and follow him through a desolate landscape.
In our testing, the spot earned a respectable 3.2 stars out of a possible 5.9, which is slightly better than the average fragrance ad – showing that the formula can work, but there’s plenty of room. for improvement.
That’s not to say the weirdness can’t win over viewers. Three’s dancing pony is a good example. Who would have thought that a moon-walking pony across a cliff to Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere, advertising a telephone company, would be such a hit (receiving 5.4 stars in tests)?
Basically, instead of using weirdness in a way that alienates viewers and leaves them confused, fragrance brands should use it to connect with people and elicit a positive emotion such as joy.
The chance to stand out
Ultimately, we know that positive emotions help connect with viewers, and brands that can achieve this all-important emotional connection certainly benefit from long-term brand growth.
Naturally, our brains are wired to engage more in right-brain thinking. It means things that capture our broad attention, rather than the left brain, which relates more to narrow focus.
The thing is, we like to relate to human stories and we like emotion, and in advertising that translates into less close-up shots of perfume bottles, random locations and mythical beasts, and better storytelling in interesting settings with endearing characters.
While many brands may think the dice are cast and the formula is set, this is not the case. If brands can be brave, break category codes, and embed the things people love and emotionally engage with in advertising, the opportunity to stand out in the industry is huge.
There is still hope
That said, we can’t ignore triumphs – which, oddly enough, don’t follow the classic formula – like Natalie Portman for Dior in her recent “Wake up for love” spot.
Sure, he’s a big celebrity, but we see and feel so much more with this ad. From the first moment we are drawn to his gaze, then a simple statement of “wake up”, then pow! The music hits and we see Portman being free, happy, emotional, relatable and… well, human.
A truly different take on a perfume ad and a breath of fresh air. Something that makes me think there is still hope for the perfume industry.