The stylish 70s Charlie commercial featured a zippy heroine, a jaunty tune, and a narrative of liberation. This 80s Charlie commercial pretty much admits it doesn't know who its audience is: business women? older ladies, described condescendingly as "vintage"? a child wearing makeup? Oy. Embarrassing. And it's been said that people were not happy about the little butt-tap this woman gives the man she's talking to. That's the least of this commercial's problems.
Jane Seymour scares me a little in this perfume commercial: “They say romance is back in style," she says, in a style somewhere between a coo and a hiss. "I say it never went out. Le Jardin says it too. It says it subtly. It says it softly. Because if you want romance to come on strong, you have to come on soft.”
This ad seems to be dispensing with culture altogether. Forget feminism, politics, or nuanced discussion. Me Tarzan, wearing Coty Wild Musk cologne, and you Jane, wearing Coty Wild Musk oil. Capisce?
Male voiceover: "One of the wildest species ever to stalk this planet was the human animal. WILD! And cunning enough to discover the essence of animal attraction, a scent to turn fear into fascination. Now, Coty has bottled this primal essence. Wild Musk Oil for her, Coty Musk cologne for him. One touch, bears a thousand...quivers. Coty Wild Musk: use it before you stalk."
How do we know the world's first "pheromone-based fragrance scientifically created to attract" works? Well, if this ad is to be believed, it's because two people doing interpretative modern dance inside color-coded, gender-appropriate neon tubes say so.
“No word is spoken, and yet the message is sent. No word is spoken, because the message is the fragrance of Andron. ANDRON, by Jovan. The first Pheromone based fragrance scientifically created to attract. Andron cologne for men, transmits powerful bands Of fragrance energy. Andron for women — softly and magnetically compelling. Andron by Jovan — the science of fragrance.”
Our perfume heroine has resumed her independent lady sass, and moves from the wedding chapel in Estee Lauder's Beautiful ad back into the world, declaring: "I am ready now." There's a bit of the "doth protest too much" in her declarations, and a distracting man does show up to slow down her will to action a bit (and notice her suddenly meek voice), but all in all — it looks like ra-ra feminism is back in action.
"I'm ready now. Wanna be who I am today. (Cachet!) I'm ready now...to make a fantasy real my way.(Cachet!) I'm ready now. I can see myself shine, and I'll make the world mine today...(runs into a man, lowers voice) I'm ready now..."
"She's having too much fun to marry..." we're told in the Rive Gauche by YSL ad from 1979. And yet just like that, in 1980, women were getting sold marriage hardcore. Who to believe? Maybe racing cars, watching sunsets by yourself, and being independent sucks, after all.
This commercial played in between all the 70s shows I loved as a kid. The Million Dollar Man. The Bionic Woman. Wonder Woman. Again, I notice the alternating female and male voices of authority in these perfume ads. Jean Naté was a perfume from the 1930s — reborn in the 1970s as a splash, an eau de cologne, for the sporty woman on the go: "Don't give her perfume; give her Jean Naté."
Female voiceover: "Jean Naté afterbath splash is for people who want to take charge of their life. It’s your body and your mind, so fresh, so new. You get the feeling there’s nothing you can’t do...
Singing: Jean Naté! Jean Naté! It's Jean Naté for a beautiful day!
Male voiceover: "Is she the Jean Naté type? Don't give her perfume, give her Jean Naté. All of it. What a splash!"
Here's a little something to help wash away the memories of that Love's Baby Soft commercial from a few days ago. A fabulous Fabergé ad, complete with flashbacks to a different Fabergé ad starring Margaux Hemingway (how meta!); asides involving dramatic 45 degree turns of the head for emphasis; and the spokeslady's disconcerting habit of over-caressing the furniture. I've read this one's from Australia, but I don't hear an accent...
Fabulous, that is, FABERGÉ lady: “I guess you’ve seen Margaux Hemingway on TV for Babe, for Fabergé. What Margaux didn’t have time to mention (ED: Because she’s busy welding things, and pouring perfume from a bottle, slowly), are the other great Fabergé fragrances, including Kiku and Xanadu (great cat names, BTW). What I’d like to say, is that it doesn’t really matter what fragrance you give her, as long as it’s something…FABERGÉ. As long as you give her something Fabergé for Christmas, you can be sure of a great new year (slides down supine on the couch. Nudge nudge. Wink wink.)”
A perfume commercial that picks up where Charlie left off and really brings home the "independent lady" theme. And yet there's some ambivalence in its ra-ra feminism, signified by the multiple, and interrupting, male and female voices — as if the ad is unclear who is supposed to be steering this message. And then there's the imagery, caught between the woman as heterosexual sex symbol, and woman as independent, off to see a romantic sunset by herself. (I had to watch it several times to make sure there was no man in this ad. Yup. No man — visible, anyway.)
It starts off with a chorus of female singers. Then there's the usual male voice of authority who chimes in with his two cents. (He even interrupts the singing at the beginning.) And then there's a female voiceover who repeats his line, which is the theme of the ad, "Because you're nothing like the past." Is she overriding, usurping his authority, making this ad different from ads from the past?
Don't get too excited. This radical ad ends with the less-than-radical words: "At Macy's."
Singing women: "There she goes, independent woman" (Male voiceover: Rive Gauche perfume designed just for...) “...the girl who’s so contemporary. She’s having too much fun to marry!” (Male voiceover: Rive Gauche perfume, Yves Saint Laurent designed it just for you! Because you’re NOTHING like the past.) "She’s not sittin' home by the phone. If if she goes, she goes alone!” (Female voiceover: Nothing like the past.) "Rive Gauche!" (Male voiceover: At Macy's.)