The Art of Advertising Perfume- Michael Buble By Invitation & Kenzoworld

Part of getting the samples of the perfumes I would like to try is also getting the press package. Usually this is some specially designed visual meant to capture the vibe. More and more frequently there is video content. Most of the time the video content is not any more memorable than the photographs. Then this past Monday I received two e-mails from two very different perfume brands containing two very different videos promoting their fragrances. I’ve been watching both of these videos quite a bit this week trying to understand what they are trying to say to the consumer who might be interested in trying a perfume based on seeing these videos. I’m going to at least comment on what I got out of overanalyzing these promotional materials.

The more traditional of the two is the video for the new fragrance Michael Buble By Invitation. For those who don’t know Michael Buble is a singer who performs original songs and versions of the classic songbook. He is similar to a younger Tony Bennett. Mr. Buble has a very winning personality and it was probably overdue his name was on the front of a perfume bottle.

For the advertisement they take advantage of both the charm and the voice of Mr. Buble as after seeing a woman in the cab next to him get out after spraying on some By Invitation he accepts and walks down the street after her. As in a Hollywood musical the rest of the people in the street dance around our protagonists all while you hear Mr. Buble’s version of the classic song “My Kind of Girl”.

This is an advertisement which tells me perfume can catalyze the unexpected as the man in the cab next to you seeks you out. It hits all of the concepts perfume tries to sell visually. It is worn by good looking people and it has a critical part to play in their attraction. It is a stylishly done bit of promotion I won’t mind seeing over and over during the holiday season.

Then there was the second video for the new Kenzoworld fragrance. Ever since Humberto Leon and Carol Lim took over as Kenzo creative directors in 2011 they have been assiduously shaking things up throughout the brand. I have been waiting for their sights to light upon the fragrance section and see what they would do. Kenzoworld is that fragrance. The promotional video shows their unique perspective on design.

The advertisement is directed by Spike Jonze. Mr. Jonze’s star began to rise with his music videos in the mid 1990’s for bands like Weezer, Beastie Boys, REM, and many others. This would lead to his feature film debut in 1999’s “Being John Malkovich”. That Mr. Leon and Ms. Lim enticed him to direct this commercial was a coup.

In the video actress Margaret Qualley is sitting at a boring talk at a dinner. She excuses herself to walk out of the room. Once she is alone in the lobby the music begins to play and take over her body. For the next couple of minutes, she dances, fires finger lasers, takes down a spy, and generally lets the music sweep her away until she bursts through a flower sculpture of the bottle. Only after all of this do you see what the ad is for; Kenzoworld perfume.

This is one of those things I will watch over and over because I see something amusing I missed in a previous viewing. The whole package including an original song written especially for the ad is meant to be seen as hip. The thing is I think whatever part of this ad they decide to cut down to one minute to be shown on tv, stripped of its context, might end up ranking as one of the more annoying ads of the holiday season.

I also wonder what it wants me to understand about Kenzoworld. That it will free me to let my inner finger laser firing self out? It is an effective piece of video but I wonder if it is an effective advertisement.

As I thought about both ads I realized the music chosen also will work in By Invitation’s favor. Over the week I was humming “My Kind of Girl” to myself. The song in Kenzoworld is not remotely hummable, by design.

It will be interesting to see how these videos are used for the next four months and whether it has any impact on the popularity of either fragrance.

The funny thing is both of them are fruity florals around jasmine, peony, and patchouli. They are very similar so the style and quality of the perfume isn’t going to separate them at the fragrance counter. Maybe it will be the way these two videos speak to the viewer which will be the difference.

Mark Behnke