The Scent of Hollywood

17 Sep

You could say the designer fragrance industry and Hollywood go hand in hand, due to their long history of using actors for inspiration to promote a campaign. Now, they have relied on musicians, models and athletes too, but what seems to be the most successful pairing (for selling designer fragrances) are actors.[1] Today, there are over 500 celebrity perfumes released a year and prestigious brands are falling over themselves to sign high- profile talent.[2] When did fashion houses begin using actors to sell fragrances?

Believe it or not it started in 1930 with actress Mae West where Elsa Schiaparelli designed a curvy perfume bottle after the actress’s figure. Then in the 1950’s Givenchy created a scent for actress Audrey Hepburn that was musky and powdery and in the 1980’s actress Joan Collins and Linda Evans had fragrances linked to their prime time show hit show Dynasty. Then we have Elizabeth Taylor’s fragrance White Diamonds for Elizabeth Arden in 1991, which grossed more than $1 billion in sales and providing a nice revenue stream for an actress who was no longer spending much time in front of the cameras. According to a market research firm NPD,

celebrities can bring in large amounts of money through their involvement with fragrances and other products. In fact, some celebrities’ income is primarily from such sources rather than from their actual profession.”

Putting the monetary awards aside. The truth is, customers are motivated by three things price, and function and psychology according to a branding expert Michael Flutie who helped country singer Tim McGraw expand his acting career using designer fragrance. Flutie states,[3]

Since the launch of his fragrance, Tim McGraw successfully positioned himself as an actor, mainly due to the success of the 2009 film The Blind Side, in which he played a supporting role. Was the fragrance a causation or correlation? All we know is that the fragrance sold like gangbusters and The Blind Side made more than $308 million at the box office.

What is it that makes a designer fragrance such a powerful tool for connecting with a consumer? Is it because it can make a two dimensional person more three-dimensional? Fans can listen to music, read celebrity gossip, watch films and interviews of their favorite celebrity, but a fragrance makes them more tangible. It activates the majority of their senses (e.g. sight, sound, touch and scent).   In this way, it puts a celebrity in a good position to establish, define and promote their aesthetic. Flutie goes on to say about Tim McGraw,

“The fragrance and his transition to movies happening at the same time helped to change the public’s perception of Tim,” Flutie said. “He is no longer just a country music singer. Through the aesthetic promoted by his fragrance he represents somebody who has a wide range of tastes, who appeals to a wide audience.”

Why are actors more desirable for designer fragrances than a musician, model or athlete? Perhaps consumers are use to actors portraying new characters than musicians, models or athletes etc or is it that TV commercial ad campaigns add greater dimension to our senses then say a magazine? That topic might require more exploration at a later date. So what about the ad campaign? How are they used to further solidify a celebrity’s aesthetic? In an article on blogsite Fashionising.com called 5 Perfume Ads That Worked and Why. Dior had two ad campaigns on their top five list,  Miss Dior Cherie with model Maryna Linchuk directed by Sophia Coppola was number five and three on the list, actor Charlize Theron with Dior J’adore perfume. Why were they selected? The most common phrases used in describing the ads were imaginative, clever, classic, decadent, carefree and romantic. These are great images for consumers to reflect on and its obvious Dior has a great sense (no pun intended) of this given Dior is an old perfume house. The earliest fragrance was created in 1947 and the newest is from 2013. I will leave you with a statement from the blogsite Fashionising.com,

“One would say a breathtaking scenic location, while another would put forward an argument that a good TV commercial needs a well-narrated story. Some want the highest-grossing Hollywood celebrity in the finest gowns, but others are happy to look at a half-naked male body swinging to Lana del Ray’s voice by the pool.

If you see a 30-second clip about a product that makes you sit on the edge of your seat in wonder and awe, means the director has hit the bullet in the head. Even though there are commercials that make you gasp out loud, there are also the ones that make you run to your nearest departmental store to make a purchase.”

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9 Responses to “The Scent of Hollywood”

  1. littlebells September 17, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

    I don’t really invest in perfumes. I have some that are years old. Honestly, celebrity endorsement/advertising kinda turns me off. I think it’s because it seems like there are so many actors who have a perfume line or advertise for one.

    • Open Book September 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM #

      The entire designer fragrance thing is lost on me I’m afraid. I prefer lotions.

      ITA LB the market is flooded with celebrity endorsements. That’s why big designer fragrance brands are more selective about who they pick to endorse their product. Today being popular just isn’t enough they want someone to bring some of their own aesthetic/philosophy to the table. At least that’s what I found in my research for this article. The really successful design houses are very selective.

  2. parisienne September 17, 2013 at 8:39 PM #

    Honestly, I see fragrance endorsements as a sell-out way to keep an actor a float. I don’t see why actors can’t take a break and try things behind the camera and test their strengths there as well. Also, I think most actors are getting burned out so take some time out and recenter yourself. The hamster wheel will always be there to jump back on.

    I can’t say I would never do something because I never say but my career would have to be in dire straits before I ever allowed my image to be used to sell a fragrance.

    • littlebells September 17, 2013 at 11:34 PM #

      Hi Paris!

      Would you say that about clothes and jewelry as well? (As far as being a sell-out) I love Leo and he’s posted in my favorite jewelry store for men’s watches.

      What about Rob’s new Dior gig?

      • Open Book September 18, 2013 at 2:01 PM #

        Hi LB-

        If I may put in my two cents:) Quite honestly I love Rob’s Dior ad. It’s bold, with a complex visual narrative, imaginative and romantic. I mean if your going to endorse something, really get involved (like Rob did in selecting the director etc.) and don’t half a** it. It makes the endorsement look insincere if u just show up and pose. The way Rob did it, people can really see what he’s about and in turn what Dior is about. I will admit, I did cringe when I first heard he might be doing a fragrance ad. But when I heard it was Dior? I thought, Ok Mr. Now your talking! Let’s see what u got? Yeah! Rob isn’t boring AT ALL!

    • Open Book September 18, 2013 at 1:31 PM #

      Hi Paris,

      Um! Can I have my brain back please? 🙂

      U Said: “Honestly, I see fragrance endorsements as a sell-out way to keep an actor a float. I don’t see why actors can’t take a break and try things behind the camera and test their strengths there as well. Also, I think most actors are getting burned out so take some time out and recenter yourself. The hamster wheel will always be there to jump back on.”

      ME: I felt the same way before researching this topic. However, now I think different. I found an actor starting out their career who’s ready to move to the next stage in their career, endorsing something that highlight their personal aesthetic can be good for consumers to see. But it’s important for an artist to have a philosophy otherwise it looks phony and the product their endorsing by default looks phony too, which today consumers can easily see through IMO.

      • Open Book September 18, 2013 at 2:27 PM #

        IMO actors (with complex ideas) who are prepared to go to the next level should do a little of both. Meaning do some stuff in front and behind the camera. Although, I think starting out, the success in front of the camera needs to be established before anyone takes them seriously behind it, at least that’s what I’ve seen for actors.

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