Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday This and That

I love it. This week, I got an e-mail from a public relations firm that shared the thoughts of Robert Passikoff, President of Brand Keys, about Brad's new ad. It was called, "Would You Buy Perfume from this Man?" I have to share it, ever-so-gently edited, because I think it's an excellent analysis of our buying habits.

It's not very often that you hear the phrase, "poor Brad," but after last week's airing of the film noir ad for Chanel N°5 starring Brad Pitt, not-a-little sympathy is in the air - especially after Saturday Night Live and Conan O'Brien had a run at him. Finding the ad abstruse and esoteric, the first male spokesperson for the perfume was skewered by these comedians in skits that mocked pretentious advertising as much as they did Brad.

Brad's fans, completely content to stare at his perfection no matter what the cheese-factor, are playing it and sharing it and playing it again on Facebook pages throughout the land. Not to forget, rumor on the street has it that Mr. Handsomest Man Alive made $7 million for his efforts. It's been well-documented that Mr. Pitt has an excellent sense of humor, especially for pranks, so we suspect he has taken it just fine.

The question is, how about Chanel N°5? Is there a reason that this is the first male to front for one of the most iconic perfume brands in the world? Men selling perfume is a tricky thing. In the past, brands like Windsong and Incognito used men effectively in their perfume advertising, but always with women who were indulging in applying the scent. These men were guest stars in the show that was all hers.

Our research has shown that when women buy fragrance the strongest driver is how the fragrance makes them feel, with the reaction it gets from others less important. For women, scent is a personal experience first - so the way the brand visualizes their sensory experience in advertising is key. That's why any abstraction is tough on a perfume brand, and ads don't get much more abstract that Brad's debut for Chanel N°5, shot in black and white in an empty room.

It remains to be seen what's next from this iconic brand. Founded by one of the strongest personalities in fashion, Coco Chanel, who believed in lovers not husbands, the brand might want to revisit its creative approach. In short: get Brad a girl. We're thinking that's the easy part.

That's one analysis, more charitable than mine. I imagine Coco Chanel fretting that her legacy has been tarnished. Chanel accomplished one thing: they got a lot of play for N°5 - most of it free. Perhaps the corporate marketing department will be laughing all the way to the bank.

Shifting subjects, I read a long article in WWD about hair care that suggested the products we use are about to undergo a revolution. Our hair ages along with our skin. As Baby Boomers start to notice undesirable characteristics in their hair - graying, tinning, loss of shine, and breakage - the hair-care market is seizing an opportunity to create customized products for our issues. Here are a couple of facts about hair.
  • The human head has 100,000 hairs. In a year, the hair grows about six inches, and each hair grows independently.
  • Typically, 50-100 hairs fall out every day.
  • An individual hair's growth cycle lasts three to five years before it is shed.
  • As people age, the cycle speeds up, making long, strong, and lasting hair a thing of the past.
  • Aging hair gets roughed up as we age, making it dry, frizzy, and/or brittle.
  • We have less lipid production as we age, so our scalps dry out too.
  • Damage from chemical and heat styling accumulates, leading to a loss of protein, which makes up 90% of hair fibers.
WWD said, "The bottom line is that an older head of hair isn't quite what it used to be." While many women have recognized changes, they haven't really figured out the aging syndrome with hair as well as they have with skin. That is leading the hair-care market to emphasize aging in its research, product development, and marketing.

Alterna, the professional hair-care brand, uses the tagline "The science of skin care for hair." Many other brands are targeting age-related problems. Hair-care marketers are modeling their strategies and ingredient stories after those for skin care, hoping to build the category (which is sagging) by convincing customers to add specialized treatments to their regimens. I suspect it's going to work.

It's getting windy and very cloudy ahead of Sandy. The rain is supposed to move into the DC area tonight. Starting tomorrow and lasting through Tuesday, Sandy is predicted to batter the area with wind and rain. We will probably get 4-8 inches of rain. They don't really know for sure, but they know it will be a ton of water, which will lead to widespread flooding.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a model that uses wind speed, population density, and other factors to predict power outages. They say a conservative estimate is that 10 million customers will lose power along the Eastern Seaboard. The last time we had area-wide power outages, we lost cell service too. Oh joy.

You can't buy milk, bread, batteries, flashlights, or regular bottled water at this point - although I noticed there is an ample supply of San Pellegrino. Maybe people don't like fizzy water? The store shelves reflect a riot. I've always wondered why people wait until the last minute to buy emergency supplies. I'm almost all set. I've got cat food, beer, and junk food. The kids and I can survive for days - even if I'm frustrated and uncomfortable. I do plan to get some cash from an ATM and top off my car's gas tank.  I'll get ice for Mom and myself this afternoon - if I can. Then we wait. As I mentioned in the Friday Forum, if I stop publishing, you'll know we got hit hard.

To all those in Sandy's path, I hope you stay safe and well. Make sure to keep your pets inside. Limit those dog walks to a minimum - like maybe right outside the front door and away from large trees. If it's really bad, don't even think about venturing out to work. You could get hit by a falling tree. I may have an unplanned day off. Let's hope for the best!

Photos courtesy of Chanel,, and NOAA


Little Red said...

The thing that struck me about the Brad ad was how it was a departure for them given their history of Deneuve and Bouquet. To me, their the ultimate in Parisian chic and elegance. Brad Pitt is many things but not Parisian chic and elegance.

Laura F. said...

"I've got cat food, beer, and junk food."

Awesome. You know what the priorities are. Stay warm and dry this week!

grlnxdor said...

I'm sure Brad will sell more than a few bottles of Chanel No. 5. The demographic is probably middle aged women like myself. About 14 years ago I had a HUGE celebrity crush on the actor Brendan Fraser. I rented/bought every movie he was ever in and read every interview with him that I could find. In one of the interviews he mentioned that his favorite perfume on a woman was Chanel No. 5. I raced to the mall to expierence it. I sprayed it on my wrist, took in a deep breath of it and realized that should Mr. Fraser and I ever "get together" this would be one of many things that we would disagree on!

Stay safe, Charlestongirl.

Nemo said...

As for celebrity in general and Brad Pitt in particular, I'm glad I'm abnormal. As for you, Cg, let makeup be your safe harbor!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Little Red,

Yes, it was clearly a planned departure. If it was only about attention and money, they scored. If it was about image, they blew it.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Laura! The only staple of life I left out was OJ.

Charlestongirl said...

LOL, grlnxdor! Maybe Chanel had a hunch.


Charlestongirl said...

Hey Nemo, I love that saying.

Anonymous said...

I'm from the Tampa, FL area...I'll be thinking about you this week Charleston Girl. Stay safe and keep you and those kitties dry. Charlotte M.

Anonymous said...

I hope you, your mom, your community and for that matter everybody else will be safe. Cat food, junk food and beer sounds like good supplies :)
I have always been a fan of Chanel - their beauty products, fragrance and fashion. I love to use No 5 Eau Premier. After seeing Brad Pitt in the ads, I told my DH that I wasn't sure I wanted to use it anymore. The add has an adverse effect on me and I am turned off by it. The spoofs on SNL were excellent and hilarious. I guess we'll see how it pans out. Brad almost looks unsightly in the ad and he is usually handsome. Oh well.

Becca @ The Beauty Sample said...

I agree with Little Red--when I think of Brad pit, Parisian-chic most definitely does NOT come to mind. It was a very interesting ad, to say the least...

Please do stay safe, CG! You and everyone else on the east coast will be in my thoughts!

Jo said...

Be Safe Charleston Girl! I hope it doesn't hit you too hard. And I'm totally turned off by the Brad thing.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Charlotte. It has now been announced that EVERYTHING is shut down tomorrow, so I'll be hunkered down at home with the kitties.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Tanja, I think that's one of the things that turns women off the most: how bad he looks.

I added OJ to the list today, so now I really have all the staples of life.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Becca. I plan to stay home and hope any power outage will be short. The utilities have brought in crews from all over the country. They are much better prepared than last time!

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Jo.

It will be interesting to see - and I'm sure we'll find out eventually - whether Brad moved the Chanel revenue up or down.

vanessa Ivelich said...

My prayers will include all beings in the path of Hurricaine Sandy. I am always saddened when grand, old trees are toppled. Trees give so much; beauty, oxygen, shade, sounds, smells and homes for creatures.

For me, Chanel No. 5 devotee for 45 years, the brand has lost it's timelessness. Great beauty is timeless and the women who symbolized Chanel No.5 had a timeless beauty. A scruffy Brad Pitt is not beautiful. I want to groom him like I do a shaggy dog.
The "face" of any advertisement carries associations that reflect back on the brand and the product. The customer wants a part of that face's aura. It is as if wearer of Chanel No.5, will embody the beauty and allure of Catherine Deneuve. Each women carried her own brand. Each woman lived a public private life that did not reveal too much about her.

Mr. Pitt's public life is a part of his own brand and this reflects on Chanel. Ask yourself, without thinking too hard, what do you associate with Brad Pitt? Does that influence your view of yourself when you wear Chanel No.5?
I cannot buy into the ad's suggestive lure. I know, without trying, way too much about Mr. Pitt and the ad's suggestion, the story it's asks me to build cannot even be considered. Without that momentary belief that the romance, the dream can be mine, the fragrance fails and becomes merely a scent.

Wunderwoman said...

"I want to groom him like I do a shaggy dog" Oh my goodness, I am still laughing. I feel the same though, he is a poor image of Chanel 5.
Stay safe CG, everyone in Sandy's path will be in my thoughts.

Eileen said...

It was Christmas 1959 when I received my first bottle of Chanel No 5 perfume--yes, perfume; not eau de whatever. I was all of fifteen, but I felt so worldly, glamorous, and chic as I dabbled my treasure on my pulse points. Andy Warhole celebrated No 5's rise to iconic stature by creating nine silkscreen prints of the classic bottle that was on display at the Museum of Modern Art in NY, Marilyn breathlessly proclaimed it the only thing she wore to bed, and "Every woman alive wants Chanel No 5". Some of the most beautiful and alluring faces of all time represented the elegance that Chanel No 5 promised. And now, we have Brad Pitt--scruffy, unkempt, inelegant Brad Pitt shilling for Chanel. It's a joke, right? It's got to be a joke.

Charlestongirl, I'm sure you've got everything well in hand, but know that our wishes for your safety and that of Charlie, Savannah, and your dear mom and her caregiver will be foremost in our thoughts as Sandy heads your way. Hunker down, have a beer, and play with your makeup :-)

Evelyn said...

I had the misfortune of seeing that ad on TV with my folks who looked at it oddly wondering what the heck he was talking about. lol It didn't make me want to buy Chanel No 5 which I don't really like to begin with (yes I know I'm a heathen but I'm ok with it).

I forgot to buy beer and wine. But I have chocolate, chips & guacamole! mm I should have bought Margarita mix...and tequila..

Stay safe everybody if you're in Sandy's path. Let's hope the electricity stays on! :)

Tatiana said...

"Mr. Handsomest Man Alive" Really? I don't think so. The handsomest man alive is my husband and he wears neatly tailored and pressed clothes and he shaves, showers and has neatly trimmed hair. Ok, I'm showing my age by my preferences, aren't I?
Looking forward to hair products geared towards my aging and thinning hair!

Wishing you and your Mom safety and shelter with the storm.

bwuman said...

A random conversation I overheard at a Walmart, "Go grab all the Diet Coke, we wouldnt want to run out!!"
Really? This is your priority!

Nina said...

Hi CG - Thank you for this post, which lightened my day for a few moments! I want to wish everyone to be well and stay safe, but I also must comment on Brad! Do you think these ads were developed in France and they just aren't "translating" well to the U.S. market? The French have a very different approach to major ad campaigns, especially when it is a product as illusive and personal as fragrance. Of course, that being said, I find the ads completely hilarious!