So, University is going waaaay too quickly for my liking and our new module has begun; fragrance! Perfume, eu de toilet, room diffusers, shampoo’s, bath and body products, I could go on… Fragrance is all around us, you name it, we all own it. Perfume is one of the largest selling industries and despite whatever trend, it will always have a strong place in the market, I mean who wouldn’t want to smell nice? But, what makes us buy into this glorified scented water in a glass bottle in the first place? Advertisements.
If you flick through Vogue, roughly 35% is filled with perfume adverts, selling the fragrance to us as a consumer before we have smelt it and this factor alone is a huge make it or break it for a perfume. Perfumes don’t do anything, they simply sit there on you skin and make you smell pleasant, at least I hope i’m smelling nice. But what i’m trying to say here is that it’s hard to show us the effect of a perfume and why we would want to purchase it opposed to another one. Most adverts show us a product in use with a successful effect, for example silky, shiny, luxurious hair like Cheryl, because she’s worth it. The uselessness of scented water is a challenge for marketers. You can’t show what the product does and therefore there needs to be another strategy to sell it, which is where emotions and narratives take their tole.
During one of our seminars, we looked at various adverts from a variety of brands. It was apparent to see that trends and themes were re-occuring which can be grouped into different categories; Seduction and Indulgence, Trust and Honesty, Tradition and Heritage and Humour and Kitsch. Ok, so this is not a definitive list by all means, but it goes without saying that if you really look into them, most fragrance advertisements can be categorised into one of these four themes.
Sensuality and Indulgence
Our sense of smell is actively tied to our emotions. To highlight this connection, adverts often emphasise on the emotional power of scent, especially when it comes to sex. Forbidden, passionate, exotic, seduction are all associated within this theme. Designers such as Tom Ford, Hugo Boss and YSL often present this theme in their advertisements and market their narrative of their fragrance to this. Other brands such as Victoria Secret also use this trend to sell their products to us consumers, who wouldn’t want to feel like they’re carrying angel wings on their back whilst wearing a silk robe?
Trust and Honesty
This includes themes of purist, natural and spiritual occurrence, with earthy greens and pastel nudes making an appearance, and many being set outside, in a nature environment, create a sense of authenticity to their product. Personally, I think Marc Jacob and his Daisy collection own this in the industry and other companies such as Dove and Herbal Essence greatly use this trend whilst linking to their brand values.
Tradition and Heritage
Adverts in this category portray the brand’s heritage, with a sense of class, vintage and romance. This is a category that was a lot more sparse when it came to grouping our adverts, as many perfume adverts are moving away from this theme as it’s hard for them to be innovative and be ahead of the trend in a narrative prospective. Designers such as Chanel, Dior and Chloe tend to stick to this category however, different scents can fall into a mixture between the category in terms of showing themes.
Humour and Kitsch
Theatrical elements, irony and wit are all present within this theme. Advertisements within this category take a completely different approach and are almost surreal with a helping hand from extravagant props. Brands such as Viktor & Rolf, Gucci and Thierry Mugler have strongly portrayed these elements in their advertisements.