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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Balade Sauvage for New Dior Sauvage Fragrance: Selling America to Americans

It is no secret that the newest Dior fragrance for men is called Sauvage and is fronted by Johnny Depp. Taking its cue from the famous (and revered) classic Eau Sauvage, but going of course to a whole different direction, I found the following commercial clip mighty interesting for the following reasons, brought to my attention thanks to my dear reader Cacio.


First of all, we've seen perfumers talk before in press clips, but never before, if memory serves me right, in such a scale. This is a mega production that uses a whole panoply of cues: the materials of the fragrance, the link between scent and memory, director shots of parts of the commercial we might never see in the cinema and online, and a...voice over.

Francois Demachy, the Dior perfumer behind this creation, is given the veneer of an American movie-goer's memory of a memory: of the voice overs of movies to follow, of trailers. In constant anticipation of what will follow, not what is in front of you. Trailers have this paradox into them, you see. Watching a trailer, especially nowadays, is like having seen the movie, or at the very least the very best parts of the movie. It aims to catch your attention, to make you exclaim "wow, that looks like an excellent movie" and make you seek it out and pay the ticket to watch it in full, but at the same time it also leaves you with the partial satiation of having actually experienced the movie (at least they do to me). Possibly this commercial clip is doing the same for the fragrance. In constant anticipation for the smell to come it sort of gives away the clues into what it smells like. It delivers before it actually hits the nostrils. Maybe I'm too critical, that could be. Maybe I prefer a little bit of mystery.


The other thing is that this clip, and the official commercial as well, tries to sell very American things to -I suppose predominantly- Americans. Which is funny, if you think about it, since Christian Dior is one of the Frenchiest brands and the official commercial is directed by that most French of French directors, Jean Baptiste Mondino, responsible for some of the most iconic images in advertising ever.

The semiotics reads like a lexicon of symbols: The desert, the wide open space, the open road, the deserted fairgrounds, the light that glimmers at the end of the road, both an effect of heat and distance and the cinematic familiarity of the camera lens showing you the experience instead of you actually experiencing it. Laundromats and wild horses, and most of all heavy Mustangs or similar cars traveling outside the urban landscape. Francois Demachy the perfumer stands atop the skyscraper of offices and dreams of the anticipation of open space, or the memory of it, it is not clear. Johnny Depp on the other hand buries his past in the dirt of the desert to divest himself of memory.

In the end, Sauvage stands as an invitation to fondly recall what we already know (the images and the ingredients of the perfumes, even those openly admitted to be synthesized, which is a nice touch) or to explore something that lies ahead and we don't? It all depends on the audience that views it, their experiences, their associations, their familiarity with what is being shown.

What do you think?

23 comments:

  1. interesting...yes, it reads very much as a string of cliche americana reference points. for such a french classic house, especially; it would have been unremarkable if it was, say, ralph lauren marketing. perhaps this is dior's answer to getting american men to buy something in the numbers that american women have been buying "j'adore"?

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    1. I suspect that is the case. :/

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  2. Miss Heliotrope07:56

    Lucky that Australia is such an insignificant market. For many of us, our associations with Depp are going to be rather more dogged:

    http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/may/17/barnaby-joyce-defends-threat-to-put-down-johnny-depps-dogs

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    1. The mind boggles on why he'd think it'd be OK. Everyone knows about the Oz laws on that score.

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  3. It's an improvement on Brad Pitt for Chanel! I quite enjoyed the clip and I think it's very 'now' - talking about the art of perfumery and so on, maybe it's a bit literal - showing the notes etc, but the average person is cynical about advertising so they'd perhaps react negatively to the usual thing of a man or woman sweeping through the city with trails of admiers drooling at them!

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    1. Anything is an improvement on the Brad Pitt for Chanel ad.
      The clip is decent enough, it's the concept that's suffering. Too much Americana and too much promise of danger and the unknown for something that is...known and predictable. But definitely better than what you're describing for sure!!

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  4. I found the first commercial really boring. I cracked up at the somewhat crushing pathos when "Bergamot" was intoned. Generally it came across as pretty over the top and pompous to me.
    If Sam Shepard were younger and had been the actor representing this fragrance, it might have been way more believable. The spirit and scope of American West is not represented well by Johnny, much as I love him in many of his films.
    Best Wishes,
    Jean

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    1. Sometimes these people doing the voice-overs (and the scripting) take themselves much too seriously I find. (But what do I know?) Too artsy fartsy too, don't you think?
      Yes, Sam Shepard would be a good choice!! Wonder why you say that Johnny isn't representing the West well, though, since I believe he has native American roots. Or is there something I'm missing?

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  5. I thought the first commercial was just too long .
    Fathers Day was last week here and we had the Johnny Depp ad on the TV but ........ have you smelt this???
    Awful !!! Cheap.

    Not like that lemony DREAM of a perfume ----- Eau Savage that Roudnitska created!!!

    Now that is yummy .... and you do not need J Depp with his illegal dogs !!!!!!!!!

    You know I love dogs Helg but ..... this is why Australia is Rabies Free ----- I would have given him the biggest fine but they let it go!!!!!!!!!!! Nuts!!!!!!!!!

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    1. I'm not prepared to be bowled over by anything brought into the mainstream from big houses anymore...sorry, but...you know.

      Eau Sauvage is the pinnacle of French beauty. The Delon face for it was genius. Let's hope they don't axe it in 10 years' time. ("old man's scent" and all)

      The first commercial is too artsy fartsy to me. Supposedly directed at US, but...do we come across that pretentious, I wonder?

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  6. annemariec11:40

    Yeah, Johnny has been in the Australian media again recently implying his contempt for Australian quarantine laws. So arrogant. He thinks there should be one law for him and one law for everyone else. As for the Sauvage ads, they are ridiculous, both of them. And already there are reports that print ads at bus stops have had the word 'Sauvage' defaced to 'Sausage'. Dior is risking the same sort of ridicule Chanel got for the Brad Pitt ads for No 5.

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    1. Hahahaha, "sausage"!! The benefit of not being native born English speaking. I take foreign words at their face value! :-D

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  7. I was in Berlin 3 weeks ago and I tested it in a large store. Nothing to write home about, sadly. The smell (I can't even recall in rough lines) had no similarity to "Eau Sauvage" (yes, that thing I remember). It was kind of modern and generic, kind of anything. Not terribly attractive either, but the fade out, technically, was very good. Today's perfume industry and their decision panels have forgotten the most basic rule; A PERFUME HAS TO SMELL GOOD! Interesting, weird, unusual, yummie, fresh, mysterious, all of them are secondary/auxilliary qualities.
    Additionally, in the same store I had the chance to try Chanel's first "Egoiste" (after many years). My perfume of choice for a whole decade, nowadays, is nothing like it used to be. All reformulations of the same house I have noticed, have been tweaked to smell better than what they used to right out of the bottle (a tweak for immediacy, in other words) but once the top notes are gone and the perfume starts to develop, they disappoint. Also their longevity has been decreased noticeably.
    Lastly Elena, being in Berlin, I came across "Tosca" eau de parfum and eau de cologne. Is this a 1921 perfume?!! It smells divine, complex, beautiful.. like I remember it as a kid. I bought many bottles for friends while the creme shower is simply divine! Tones of jasmine, ylang ylang, a hint of coconut and patchouli, aldehydes (more pronounced in the shower version than in the perfume) so cleverly put together, a majestic composition full of charm and fresh sophistication.
    Their price? Something like 9 euros for the 50ml cologne and less than 5 euros for the creme shower. Both top quality.

    PS. i don't know the person in the spot (and this is not about him of course), but I can't understand why a man in order to look trendy and sell, has to give the impression he has a bad breath.

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    1. See what I'm commenting on the commercials and advertising? The perfumes are nothing to write home about. :-D

      With thousand of releases each year, I suppose it's hard to do both interesting and smelling good. One has to give way, at the very least. It's a pity.

      Regarding the Chanel reformulations, it's interesting what you say about the reformulation of top notes! The watering down/longevity I'm afraid does have something to do with the newest allergens restrictions; in order to meet the guidelines perfumers often have to dilute the compound within an inch of their lives. Otherwise they'd have to go back to the sketching board and scratch EVERYTHING. Small mercies perhaps. It's a bummer though, because the originals did last for ages.

      I LOVED Tosca as a child. We used to joke about it, because saying the consecutively, over and over, in Greek results in, well, you know! :-D It's been ages since I smelled it. What an absolute joy to find out it's still marvelous and still such a great value! One must investigate.

      Very interesting comment regarding the clip: you mean you don't know Johnny Depp (that'd be a first, so consider me awed) or the man standing as Demachy in the 1st clip? Though I suppose the bad breath comment might better fit Johnny in the 2nd clip (he seems to be wrinkling his nose, doesn't he?)

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    2. Thank you Elena for your reply! Well, it looks like everyone did the "Tosca - Tosca" thing after all! :)
      It is my absolutely favorite smell after so many years, now that I rediscovered it, but I admit that this time of the year, with the first rains introducing us reluctantly to autumn, a Coco Mademoiselle will also shine with its floral freshness and with a hint of elegant naughtiness.
      No, I don't know the man in the commercial but I do know the perfumer M. Demachy. Is he an actor? Is he really good? Acting, painting, songs, perfumes e.t.c., nothing is as good as it used to be anymore. Have you noticed?

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  8. Easy come easy go... Or as they say, if we hate it, people love it. It's an easy buck that's for sure. If it means more innovation on the collection privee good, but I have a hunch this will substitute the classic Sauvage in the long run. Oh well, let's hope the new Chanel masculine is better.

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    1. I was afraid they'd think that (that since we hate it, it will sell big). Hopefully it won't replace such a classic as Eau Sauvage. The thing I believe will be done is that like with the original Miss Dior, Dior will get the ES original to the back and have it distributed very esoterically. People would need to really know about it to get their hands on it.
      Frankly, I have no hopes for mainstream Chanel for some time now. Only the Exclusifs range produces worthwhile things now.

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    2. Same goes for Dior and the Privee line. Though I don't exactly call sky high prices and "just ok" scents worthwhile. Their regular line is so crap that something slightly good feels like a very good thing!

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    3. Ain't that the truth. If you think about it, we're brought to the point where we buy stuff at triple the price for same quality things that 2 or 3 decades ago made it to the regular line... :-( They also convinced us that we're paying for high art instead!

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  9. I haven't seen the comercial, but I've smelled the scent at my local Sephora in Barcelona. The SA in Sephora tried to convinced me of how wonderful and much, much better is Sauvage compared to Eau Sauvage (in her words, "EA is an old-man's scent"), but the thing is Sauvage doesn't hold a candle to ES.

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    1. The lines SAs are fed...I was told the same thing though by another local SA when trying to purchase ES for a 35-year old a couple of years ago; "this is too old for him, get him something else". I ended up buying classic Farhenheit (not really young either) but I wonder whether it was a mistake to be influenced like that. If it were for me or my man I wouldn't hesitate but for a gift...well...who knows.

      I don't think Sauvage will last in the next 10 years, to be honest.

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  10. Excellent article. As usual :-)

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