Brad Pitt is confused.
We are confused.
Can ads be confusing? No.
Art and life in general can be confusing, but an ad should have a clear message, aimed at the right target, on the right channel, featuring the right ambassador.
Can a perfume ad be a stinker? That is the second question.
When it comes to the new Chanel No 5 ad, featuring Brad Pitt, the answer is, according to, well, everybody: YES.
Here is the infamous ad:
The consumer is confused.
And here’s a selection of comments, left on YouTube:
‘i wouldnt say it worked when it repells me from chanel no 5… Id rather wear my grandmas Oscar De La renta’
‘This sh*t makes no sense.’
‘…is that Channel No 5 for men now? Confused!!’
‘The Brad Pitt from Fight Club would punch this Brad Pitt in the face.’
Vox populi, vox Dei (“The voice of the people [is] the voice of God”)?
I believe there is no need here to explain what Chanel is and what it means to fashionistas, classy ladies, luxury aficionados and collective imagination in general.
Moreover, we talked about Brad and Chanel some time ago, in a post entitled ‘Luxury brands + Celebrity endorsement = Expensive WTF’.
But that was before the ad came out, i.e. before things could get from WTF to disaster, like they did.
The Internet is confused.
Is that Brad Pitt? Or is it Chuck Norris?
The Guardian said: ‘Brad Pitt’s Chanel No 5 ad: the smell of disaster.
‘All the actor had to do was stand in a room spouting drivel for 30 seconds. What could possibly go wrong?’
The Sun added: ‘It’s all gone Pitt Tong – is Brad having a mid-life crisis?’
‘Since the early 1990s he has been one of the world’s most bankable movie stars, filming a perfect blend of box office smashes and trendy cult hits.
But after his cringe-inducing Chanel advert was named among the year’s worst, Hollywood insiders are starting to whisper the unaskable question — Is Brad Pitt starting to whiff?’
Business Insider went: ‘Brad Pitt’s incredibly awkward and rambling Chanel No. 5 ad has been widely panned and spoofed.’
‘A month and a half later, Pitt himself mildly came to Chanel’s defense.
“I kind of like it,” he told Reuters. “I respect what they do. They do some really quality things.”’
‘Chanel should be relieved that Pitt thought the ad was kind of sort of ok. The luxury brand did pay Pitt a reported $7 million for the campaign, after all. That’s $175,000 for each one of the 40 nonsensical words Pitt spouted in the spot.’
Why? ‘Not just because it has just been voted the worst advert of 2012. Not just because the centrepiece television ad is quite possibly the most pretentious 30 seconds ever captured on film (and I am including all Bono footage, plus the collected speechifying of Lady Gaga, Salman Rushdie and Madonna in this category).
Not just because it has damaged Brad’s own reputation and that of the iconic perfume itself – first invented in 1921 and famously worn by Marilyn Monroe in bed. Not just because it has put a crimp in the standing of the House of Chanel and a question mark over the judgment of boss Karl Lagerfeld, whose idea it was to hire Pitt in the first place.’
The article continues: ‘Hush now. Brad is talking. Who is he talking to? A perfume bottle or a woman? It is impossible to say. Is he talking about the perfume or to the perfume? Who knows, but his voice is hoarse and gruff with the effort of trying to distil all the wonders of the world and mysteries of the universe, life and love itself into 40 words of the kind of banal gobbledegook that passes for profundity amongst the fashion set.
‘It makes no sense at all.’
Confusion. Confusion everywhere.
More confusion coming: ‘This huge advertising campaign, which was rolled out in October on both sides of the Atlantic on TV and in magazines, newspapers and on billboards, is one of the most expensive in Chanel’s history. The media-spend in Britain and America alone was estimated at £25 million, with Brad’s fee added on top of that.
The TV ad was shot in London and directed by Joe Wright, whose credits include Pride & Prejudice (the 2005 version), Atonement and this year’s Anna Karenina. Wright said that even he didn’t understand the ad’s script, which was written by Glenn O’Brien, a fashion insider who writes a column called The Style Guy for American GQ magazine’ and ‘in a recent chat-show appearance, Brad admitted he didn’t have a clue what the Chanel ad was about either. This is a sentiment echoed by Claire Beale, editor of Campaign, the trade magazine for the UK advertising industry. She says: “There is no doubt this is a real stinker of an ad but it’s so bad it’s become one of the most noticeable campaigns out there – one of the most high-profile campaigns Chanel has ever run, though also one of the most expensive.
blast of Chanel.’
A confusing feeling left in the viewer: ‘And in the end, all those throaty voiceovers and frightening Brad-ish close-ups just make me focus on what an odd shape his face is – a wedge of hairy cheese trying to be profound – and wish he would shave off that irritating goatee.’
The commuter is confused.
“Who is Chanel talking to?” has been the refrain here.
So Chanel chose the wrong brand ambassador, the wrong script for a very confusing video promoting a legendary product in the wrong way.
What about billboards and ad placement strategy on the streets?
This is a bus stop ad in Catford, south London. The question, once again, is: Chanel, who are you talking to?
Here as well, there’s plenty of stimuli for a good laugh: ‘this ad is rubbish’, ‘guy’s talking about the journey, there comes the N37 init’, Pitt stop and so on and so forth.
Inevitable, they say in the ad. I’d say the opposite.
What do you think?