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Perfumes, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1238

Essay

When we think about perfumes, we realize that the number of classic women’s fragrances greatly exceed the number of classic men’s fragrances. If asked to name the classic men’s fragrances that our fathers and grandfathers used to wear, many among us may name Old Spice, Brut, Canoe, British Sterling, Polo, and Jovan Musk etc. But if asked to name the fragrances that our mothers and grandmothers used to wear, the list will be considerably longer including fragrances such as Chanel No. 5, Shalimar, L’Air du Temps, Opium, Mitsouko, Giorgio Beverly Hills, Poison, Miss Dior, Rochas Femme, and Rive Gauche. Perfume critic Tania Sanchez makes an interesting observation in her book Perfumes: The Guide that when a product including perfumes work for a man, he continues to buy it until he dies or the product dies. But a woman only buys a product until she gets bored (Sanchez). A quick search for perfume ads on the internet reveals that historically far greater number of women’s perfumes have been released as compared to men’s perfumes even though men’s options have significantly grown in the last few decades. We also observe that women’s perfumes ads reveal the evolution of society’s perceptions of women, women’s roles, women’s lifestyles, and women’s fashion over time.

A vintage black and white perfume ad for Jacques Fath’s Canasta perfume from the 1950s (The Non-Blonde) reminds us that women during that time often wore hand gloves as a fashion accessory. In addition, smoking among women was fashionable. We also note that fragrances were probably a luxury and not as mainstream as they are now. This is because not only Canasta’s glass bottle look handcrafted but even the box looks luxurious. The ad tries to appeal to the viewers through the powerful imagery of a smoking woman who both exhibits class and attitude. The text is limited to the name of the perfume and brand in order to avoid distraction from the woman. This ad passes the test of relevance because the perfume looks luxurious and the model shown seems to belong to a rich class. The ad implies that the perfume has been aimed at those with high income levels.

Jean Patou’s Joy ad (Vintage Ad Browser) also seems to support the idea that perfumes were luxury in the 50s. Joy’s ad claims that it is the costliest eau de toilette in the world and shows a woman lifting the bottle up in the air. Patou’s ad puts greater emphasis on the fragrance bottle which has been drawn in darker tone as compared to the woman holding it so that the viewer notices bottle before anything. The text occupies minimum space because the marketer wanted to emphasize the ‘costliest perfume’ claim. The ad passes the test of relevance because perfumes were most probably a luxury in the 50s and the claim in the ad attempts to persuade the viewers that they will be getting their hands on a truly luxury item that is not made cheaply.

A 1960s ad for Faberge’s Flambeau perfume (Vintage Ad Browser) reminds us of style icon Jackie Kennedy. The ad confirms that Jackie Kennedy’s style, from her trademark hairstyle to sleeveless A-line dresses, truly represented the 60s decade. We also observe that short hair was still in vogue. The colored ad emphasizes the colors yellow and red so as to imply that this fragrance is hot as fire and has unrivaled warmth. Even the name of the fragrance seems to be a derivative of the word ‘flame’. Another 1960s ad for Balmain’s Jolie Madame (Vintage Ad Browser) hints that strong perfumes were probably popular among women during that time. The ad indirectly claims that Jolie Madame can still be smelled in a party after other perfumes have disappeared. Jolie Madame’s Ad reminds us that one thing has not changed in perfume advertising to this day i.e. major emphasis on images and minimal use of text. Perfume marketers used to emphasize the mysterious powers of their fragrances in older times just as they do it today. Jolie Madame’s ad fails the test of logical strength because it claims it can still be smelled when others have disappeared in the party and the tagline is that it is the most sophisticated fragrance in France. The reader doesn’t see any connection between being strong and being sophisticated because they are entirely different things. This ad also fails the test of logical strength because claiming that a perfume is sophisticated is a subjective opinion and there exists no standard against which perfumes could be measured for their sophistication.

A 1960s ad for Lanvin’s Arpege (Vintage Ad Browser) reminds us that one of the widely prevalent stereotypes about women in those days was that the key to becoming rich was to marry a rich guy. The ad tells the viewers that the key to winning the heart of a millionaire and getting married to him is Arpege. The ad passes the test of relevance because one of the ideas in those days was that the easiest way to riches for women is to marry a rich guy and perfumes have historically been perceived as a tool for seduction.

A 1980s ad for Chanel No. 5 (Vintage Ad Browser) shows that long hair became the trend in 80s. A 1989 Revlon’s Charlie ad (Vintage Ad Browser) also confirms that long hair was in vogue during the decade. Another thing we notice in both ads is that women started appearing in formal business attire which may be due to the fact that America became more accepting of career women. The perfume marketers noticed changing social attitudes and started portraying women as ambitious working professionals in order to increase their brand appeal. These two ads pass the test of relevance because they responded to a social trend that was emerging at the time.

By 90s, the perfume ads became more sexual in nature. The ads were a sign that the society had become comfortable with sexual advertising. Calvin Klein’s Escape perfume ad (Fite) implies that perfume is a powerful seduction weapon. The ad also reminds us that the use of sexual elements in marketing campaigns to increase a product’s appeal is not new but even existed in 1990s. This ad passes the test of relevance because the image implies that the advertised perfume will make the wearers sexual appealing to the opposite sex due to a seductive scent.

Looking at different women perfume ads over the last century, we are reminded that marketers have always emphasized the seductive powers of their products. This marketing strategy might have been inspired by the idea that smell does attract the opposite sex. We also observe in the perfume ads that perfume marketers have primarily relied on powerful images to psychologically appeal to women and the subjective claims have usually been masked as logical facts.

References

Fite, Jeanean. Sexual Advertising in Magazines. 25 September 2012 <http://www.nku.edu/~issues/sexinadvertising/magazines.html>.

Sanchez, Tania. “The Wasteland.” Turin, Luca and Tania Sanchez. Perfumes: The Guide. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2008. 28.

The Non-Blonde. Jacques Fath- Canasta (Vintage Perfume). 19 April 2012. 25 September 2012 <http://www.thenonblonde.com/2012/04/jacques-fath-canasta-vintage-perfume.html>.

Vintage Ad Browser. 1989. 25 September 2012 <http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/perfume-ads-1980s/2>.

—. Chanel No.5 Perfume Nice Marshall Field Color (1987). 25 September 2012 <http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/perfume-ads-1980s>.

—. Flambeau By Faberge “For Playing With Fire” (1966). 25 September 2012 <http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/perfume-ads-1960s/10>.

—. Jolie Madame Balmain Paris Fragrance (1966). 25 September 2012 <http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/perfume-ads-1960s/5>.

—. Joy Eau De Toilette Art Costliest In the World (1955). 25 September 2012 <http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/perfume-ads-1950s>.

—. Lanvin Arpege Perfume Bottle (1961). 25 September 2012 <http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/perfume-ads-1960s/6>.

 

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