Monday, September 5, 2011

J'Adore Dior new 2011 commercial: An Unimaginative Concept

I am coming back after a brief comment on the teaser of the new film for Dior's J'Adore filmed exclusively in the 'Galerie des Glaces' at the 'Château de Versailles' and after my lukewarm reception of another anticipated commercial (Trésor Midnight Rose for Lancôme with Emma Watson). In the complete film for Dior, Charlize Theron struts once more in a gold dress (what else is new?), this time down the catwalk, being utterly gorgeous (of course, we knew that already since 2004 when she debuted as the face of the J'Adore Dior fragrance and weird thing...being greeted by kiss, gaze or envious greediness successively by Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich & Marilyn Monroe!

Of the three Kelly looks like she was literally "cut out" from To Catch a Thief being the most convincing (she was digitally added after all), Marlene looks like an impersonator in the familiar cheekbones-to-slice-cheese-with & stockings-under-a-jacket routine, while Marilyn is the poorest of them all in a justifiable punishment for hubris (watch those over-lipglossed lips in that reflective lighting), squeeling J'Adore in girly tones reminiscent of Gentlemen prefer Blondes; wait, though, wasn't she known for her predeliction for Chanel No.5? No matter, Dior (and LVMH who own them) is taking icons right and left and attributing them a penchant for the brand, probably because they can. They're crying for copyrights any chance they get, but they're using icons like there's no tomorrow.Cool, huh?

The weirdest thing though is this perfume commercial has been directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, a director famous for his grand scale scope, mastery of silence & landscape (watch L'Ours, Quest for Fire, Seven Years in Tibet), his breathtaking, very human love scenes (see Enemy at the Gates, L'Amant, or The Name of the Rose) and the recurring theme of civilization affecting the natural world. I see none of these here, so what was the point of hiring Annaud in the first place in this stage in his career? (He had directed several ad commercials at the end of 1960s and in the 1970s).

In many ways, a disappointment...

The music is "Heavy Cross" by Gossip


  1. Jean-Jacques Annaud directed this? Disappointment is not strong enough... the J'Adore ads seem to be getting progressively worse. The first one with Tiiu Kuik was lovely (it reminded me of the movie Goldfinger with the gold-covered woman), then the next one with Theron was OK only because of Marvin Gaye's music, but this? I love "Heavy Cross" but it's completely at odds with this context, the "celebrity" appearances are gratuitous... it's just completely void.

  2. more like je bore...

  3. Anonymous23:51

    This ad makes no sense, and when Marilyn Monroe appears it's really creepy. Why is she there? Why are any of them there? Following on the heels of a good teaser and a killer print ad campaign, what gives, Dior? If the song says to undo what's all ready been done, then why are these icons from the past in the fashion show? Unless there's a Part Two where Charlize starts smashing things up and pushing the other models off the catwalk, it's a big budget fail.

    Of course the 15 second ads they'll air on TV will probably look good.

  4. Patuxxa,

    exactly: I hear Annaud and I was "wow, must be really great and unusual" as he has such a distinct style and large scope. But no...The scope was usurping icons of Golden Hollywood (how at odds with the French background).

    Anyway, yes, the gold pool and the rings on the neck were much more impressive (though not totally original, as you yourself point out). I think Karmen Kass advertised it at some point as well? (early on)

  5. Nofixedstars,

    LOL, mais oui!

  6. Anon,

    you point out a succinct point, the discrepancy between song lyrics and visual cues. Bravo! I missed that.
    Yeah, it seems incongruous and out of place and like sprinkling it with some glamour for the heck of it!

    I believe the "motive" behind this move is to have J'Adore go down as a classic (much like those are classics and the scents associated with them are too), but honestly, J'Adore WILL go down as a classic anyway just because it has been so effing popular for so many years!!! (not that it didn't use to be good too, once upon a time). Do you agree?

  7. You are correct, in fact I was thinking of the Karmen Kass version when I mentioned Tiuu (I have terrible memory for names). It's the original ad campaign for this scent, and for me still the best...

  8. Anonymous15:19

    This ad is all i hate in the perfume marketing industry…
    I can imagine the sell out people applausing in the room during the first presentation…

  9. Patuxxa,

    thanks for following up and so graciously at that. It was indeed the best of the lot (and I do happen to like Charlize, mind you)

  10. Anon,

    urgh doesn't begin to describe my feelings either.
    The digitally additions are creepy, but I can't understand why they needed Annaud for them anyway. How could Annaud put his seal on this, is beyond me. And the people who applauded of course when it was put to the test...

  11. Anonymous06:51

    Totally disagree with you. I love this ad. Love the emotions it creates, nostalgia mixed with sofistication. Great work!

  12. Anon,

    good on you to post your disagreement! Thank you, we encourage a spirited dialogue here.

    Yet...does one get really nostalgic when watching it? Of old Hollywood, you mean? Of bygone glamour in general? (Isn't that contradictory though when it's a very modern, very contemporary product that's getting promoted with not even one iota of retro vibe? The bond between old & new in the product itself just isn't very clear ~to me, anyway). If you care to elaborate on that aspect, I would be honestly interested to hear you out.

  13. Anonymous15:54

    I feel like the lyrics are almost a pun to the visuals. the reason charlize is wearing the gold dress again is because thats her iconic dress, they could have had her wear any dress from their extensive collection. they chose that for a reason.As for marilyn,grace,marlene.. years and years later,i think they would be honored to be a part of such a modern glamorous ad campaign for a global luxury brand like Dior. They all looked beautiful.

  14. Anonymous12:10

    You can't get more iconic than Marilyn, Grace and Marlene. Each was epitomical in their own right. Each left a lasting legacy which we still talk about on celebrity talk shows and dinner parties all around the western world and years later. Annaud is subliminal but precise in the delivery of his message. Icons, Charlize, gold dress, J'Adore. Masterpiece. I get it, do you?

  15. Anon #1,

    good point about the lyrics. The dress is fine, more than fine actually.
    One observation: "honored to be part of such a modern glamorous ad campaign for a global luxury brand like Dior". Sounds like PR to me. Are you quoting it? ;-)

  16. Anon #2,

    I appreciate your comment, but implying that I didn't "get" the message isn't going to make your argument any stronger, you know.

    Yes, these are icons and this is why the Dior team (you? the PR?) wanted them into the commercial; obviously to show how J'Adore is a continuation of iconic glamour. It's not that hard to understand. I think I was pretty straight-forward in mentioning in my post.
    But that does NOT suffice or validate the campaign, in my opinion, which is essentially what I'm arguing about. These are dead icons and we don't know whether they would have agreed to star in it, had they been alive. Yes, they had at one or more times opted to wear something Dior, but that doesn't mean they would endorse this particular perfume. It's like I am a manufacturer of blue suede shoes and I'm emblazoning the face of Elvis on them, to give an iconic masterpiece status to them, just because he sang about them once in his lifetime (to iconic results, no doubt). Is my point clearer now?

    BTW, I'm a very big fan of Annaud, have watched the vast majority of his work numerous times. I don't quite think he was at liberty to do whatever he pleased. Am I wrong?

    May I also say that when PR people come onto these pages to comment/do damage control, it is much more respected by readers if they do so openly.
    I like to think that we keep a high level of fair dialogue here; if you have watched this site you know there is no censorship, no group attacks and we try to hear out all opinions no matter how contrary to our own. It would be most beneficial if instead of defensive posts there was some shedding of light into what actually was the procedure into arriving into this or that concept. Just a thought.

  17. Anonymous16:42

    I am sure the estates of these deceased icons licensed the icons to be used in this ad spot, so thinking that way, someone thought it respectable enough to have them appear in it?

  18. Anon,

    obviously that someone gets a nice monetary recompensation too, I'd wager.

    I don't know...Marilyn especially seems so wrong given her famous alliance to Chanel No.5, you know? *fluttering my eyelashes*

  19. Michelle Umunna05:31

    To tell the truth.... I don't see anything wrong with the commercial. Until I saw this post I loved the commercial and now I see that Kelly was digitally added to the commercial. I think he was trying to do this, I want to see any one of you make a commercial anything like this. Not trying to be rude.. but the commercial is totally ruined by "fan" who look down upon creativity and imagination of people who may or may not have done better. He's probably been around longer than most of you and he might have had a vision with all these great people and you may not see it, but I promise that he sees it. ...just saying.
    -Mi Mi

  20. Michelle,

    your comment is absolutely welcome and you're not rude. Thanks for commenting!
    I see what you're saying.

    However, please note that personally I'm a big Annaud fan (big!) and this is why I was disappointed, I guess; I expected something different, not relying on past icons (I feel like this was an idea passed on by the creative group as a whole). Anyway...

    The argument whether I (or anyone else) critizing a given body of work would/could do as well or better, though, is totally without point, I'm afraid. Because it is the artist's work to create and the critic's work to criticize. If a creative team puts something out there for us to see, it's inevitable that we're going to form an opinion on it. That opinion could be positive OR negative, it's a gamble and they should be prepared to take it. To venture in public is to garner feedback. This is what it is.

  21. Thank you for being one of the few people to point out that Marilyn Monroe's signature scent was Chanel No. 5. Also, I love song in the video but does anyone find it ironic that the lead singer of The Gossip, Beth Ditto, is a very BBW who would never be allowed near a Dior show?

  22. Zelda Rose,

    thanks for commenting and for bringing in an additional point on the table, so to speak. I wonder if they thought about that! The soundtrack choice is inspired, at any rate. Maybe punny even, as someone suggested.

    I tend to believe that as Chanel isn't too keen on actually using Monroe as a selling point in their official PR and marketing (as they promote the Frenchiness of No.5 to Americans via Catherine Deneuve etc.), it was a bold, but not without some rationale, move on Dior's part to claim her on their own. An historical inaccuracy that remains to be seen whether it will change/form anyone's mind in the future. Kids are so influenced by what they see rather than what they read/hear.

  23. Despite the technical prowess of ads like this, using dead stars to promote current products always seems to backfire and distract from the intended message. While this spot does catch one's eye (admittedly I looked it up on youtube after seeing it) it leaves one with a kind of creepy feeling and more questions than answers. The negatives, in my opinion, do nothing to advance the brand.

  24. Anonymous06:36

    Can't believe Marilyn's estate allowed her likeness. She looks terrible and everyone knows she was a Chanel 5 girl. It makes no sense and it's creepy.

  25. Anonymous06:38

    Can't believe Marilyn's estate would allow her likeness because everyone knows she was a Chanel 5 girl. She wasn't even alive when J'adore came out. She looks terrible and it's creepy.

  26. Seriously, if this is Marilyn via CGI it's been heavily modified for God knows what reason. Really look at MM's eyes and mouth they do *not* look right at all; Marilyn had full rounded lips that gave her that pouty look that she was known for. The look-alikes eyes are off too, they seem to have a 'tilted' appearance which the real MM didn't have; this impersonator(?) is trying to imitate what others once called 'The Look', which was really what amounted to a sexually satisfied woman or at least a very sensual 'come hither' look. The whole idea of
    this being the 'real' Marilyn seems off to this viewer.

  27. Anonymous07:35

    I watched this ad and, ho hum, look, another fashion show...yawn. It's like that's the epitome of success for a woman... to strut down a runway. The impersonators ---WTF? Meaningless, unimaginative, trite and frankly, a lazy campaign. If I was sitting in the production meeting I would have said, is that the best you've got?

  28. James,

    it';s kinda creepy all right :-( Good point on backfiring!

  29. Anon,

    I suppose they're hitting the No.5 myth, trying to upstage with this more "star| studded number (everyone likes J'Adore, even people who have been known for liking specific things).

    I don't know…it looks odd to me too.

  30. Jeanmacgreen,

    imitating Marilyn although very popular rarely measures up to the prototype, for all the reasons you state. The "come hither" was almost shivering with anticipation and yet some innocence too, it wasn't vulgar.
    In my mind, a fail, but not as epic as Pitt's for No.5, so… LOL!!

  31. Anon,

    fashion show is a good way to describe it. I suppose the perfumes are supposed to help maintain the fashions so it makes some sense.
    It's rather meaningless of course, because smells and scents aren't just accessories to match to one's outfit or to be part of a "brand" (though they work that way in the market reality).

    But I on the contrary don't think it was lazy at all. I believe it was painstakingly thought out and planned by marketing gurus to contain very specific elements included in it, only the end result didn't work out on us (at least the readers of this blog) as intended. ;-) :-D

  32. Not content to manipulate Marilyn while she lived, the Strassbergs were the primary beneficiaries of her estate and have lost no sleep selling her image to the highest bidder. Pirhana would have been kinder. Poor Marilyn, may she rest in peace and cease walking the earth in the form of a CGI zombie.

  33. Leslie,

    very apt summation of this whole case.
    I do hope she finally finds the peace she didn't have while alive. It's sad she's manipulated so much even dead.

    Thanks for commenting!

  34. Anonymous09:05

    There seem to be one thing that every one is missing here and its not who is in the advert or why or how creative or uncreative it is but the general public who buy the product. This is a fantastic advert and people like seeing old movie stars glitz and glamour. The public dont care if they use that product or not because every famous person does not use the product they promote. Its their faces that promote and the company pay them to appear in promotionsns. simple as. All in all a brilliant ad

  35. Anon,

    you have a point but I'm not sure it's actually complimentary on "the general public who buy the product". You might want to think on that a moment.

    Indeed the average buyer likes seeing old movie stars (because new movie stars have so little mystique left with everything hanging out on the tabloids and social media) but to imply that they do not believe the endorsement but buy anyway is a little bit of a sketchy argument. If so, then why not have them just appearing out of context and just have the product advertised emblazoned on the final shot? Obviously the producers of such campaigns wants us to think that were these legends alive they'd use and love the product in question.

    Anyway, it's a very engaging discussion all the same and that means that they have succeeded. Talking is free advertising. ;-)


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