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Monday, February 2, 2015

Vintage Advertising Champions: Mitsouko or The Geisha & The Sailor

"For one crazy moment he feels he will stay. Then he turns towards the gangplank and walks very slowly in the mist.
Each one of their moments -the shy beginning, the electric touching of fingertips, the transporting passion, will disappear in the universal solvent of time plus distance.
Years later, a woman in a silk dress will pass by wearing Mitsouko. 
And 1921 will flash through him like a shock. He will not be able to forget the long black hair, the incredibly soft skin, the infinite tenderness...
Mitsouko by Guerlain."


In a Madame Butterfly context (harkening to the original novel La Bataille which inspired the creation of Guerlain's famous perfume Mitsouko set during the Japo-Russian war) the text of the above 1974 advertisement zooms in onto a powerful connection and perfume marketing apparatus: that of recollection triggered by scent. "1921: a fragrance will not let him forget."

What irony that the beloved memory of one might be felt off the sillage, the fragrant trail of another...

13 comments:

  1. I just love this sort of advertisement but ..... sadly .... I really don't think people these days would read it all!
    Its all visual and quick that sells products now ! :(

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    1. Visual can be ingenious as well. It's just that they're so deja vu now., tired visuals that we have seen a 100 times already. Maybe we're getting older and have seen it all? I don't know what kind of innovation they hold for a 15 year old and couldn't guess. :-/
      But I do miss a good copy writing or a clever motto/slogan!

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    2. And another point you bring is pertinent: people don't read as much these days. They want quick bites. I blame it on social media. Too much information kills information.

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  2. Beautiful. Gone are the days when a copywriter could showcase the beauty of the written word. Now, sadly, it's all image driven. Thanks for this.

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    1. Exactly! This is the crux of the matter. Visual could be innovative too, but I suppose that died with the 80s-90s in perfume advertising. Now everyone does the exact same things. Unimaginative and tired. :-(

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  3. I have to say, sillage is in some respects a thing of the past too. I can't
    tell you how long it has been that I have actually smelled anothers scent trail. Sad really. I know some modern fragrances do have a sillage but not like they used to; you have to be darn close to some to even smell the perfume. Maybe I don't get out enough, lol :o)

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    Replies
    1. Good point, though I suspect it also has to do with the amount of perfume/cologne put on. This is especially important in scent-phobic America. Here I often smell trails of perfume of things one would consider very discreet; they just put on more.

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  4. Miss Heliotrope01:28

    Um, cynically wondering how many non-perfume obsessives, perhaps especially of the male variety, really remember the actual perfume? Practising on my own sample, he tends, despite regular waving of scented body parts (perhaps I should be more careful which ones?) under his nose, to say "O yes, that nice one." Pushing for detail is not usually helpful.

    I agree that it would probably be in the circumstances of that very same scent being met again that would trigger the memory of it (Proust always gets into conversation somehow), but without the trigger?

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    1. Men (most men, judging by male bloggers who are an exception) are probably totally stumped at *talking* about perfume whereas they're perfectly attuned to smelling it. Even identifying it, in my experience.

      I'm not so sure about Proust being the right reference. He gets brandished a lot, but I think there are other factors at play when someone reminiscences about something in particular. Sometimes a whole set of triggers is in place, only we don't realize it at the time. KNow what I mean?

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  5. Sorry to spoil the fun but the whole Madama Butterfly theme is a horrible, abominable kitsch. It is a disgusting combo of the saccharine precipitate of 19th century Romanticism, the wacky and racist-ish Orientalism that hasn't been uprooted despite all the globalization and media and whatnot and my inner feminist says that the sailor should be nailed head-down through his knees to a bridge for the time of at least two tides to see how errnoenous his ways are.

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    1. Sorry for the belated reply.

      You DO have a point about the oriental "romanticism" (geishas are far from a romantic thing, I should think, especially if one has read a book or two about them). Nevertheless Madame Butterfly is a sublime opera, it is popular for a reason and I should imagine one of the few referents the average western viewer of the early 1970s was aware of, so I can't honestly blame the copy writer of this.
      In hindsight however, yes, the feminist does protest!

      BTW. Sorry I haven't responded more in full, totally crazy time right now!!

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