As predicted may happen, this is my first Nope!Post not related to the portrayal of women in comics. This one is instead slightly broader in that it relates to the portrayal of women in perfume ads and specifically for BonBon Perfume.
There are many terrible adverts out there for perfume, both in film and print media. So many in fact that I’m not going to open that can of worms today. What I am going to do through is share with you this Nope!Post relating to the advert I pass every day on my way to work for Viktor & Rolf’s BonBon Perfume.
In short, I hate this advert. Firstly, it is completely objectifying – treating the woman as a decorative accessory to the perfume. Secondly, it gives the potential customer no clue as to what the product is – or in this case how it smells. This advert is an example of a female product being marketed at men. Ladies, if you get this perfume as a gift, you can bet it’s because your fella saw an eye catching advert. This is not to say that it isn’t selling well (I have no idea of their selling figures), and yes, perhaps some women may feel some aspirational draw towards the advert, but in reality it tells us nothing about the product.
Personally, I’d prefer something that hinted at the type of scent you might expect it to have. Is it a light and airy scent – represented by a lady (preferably clothed) frolicking in the meadows. Is it a sultry musk perfectly suited to a snap of a sophisticated woman at an important and dressy function? We don’t know. From this advert we know nothing. Having read the website, it apparently has caramel notes. I’m actually not sure where you would wear such a sweet perfume, but perhaps having the model (fully clothed) in a sweet shop, or hell, just images of sweets, might better portray the scent!?
On the Viktor & Rolf website I find further information about the marketing on this –
“Bonbon, a timeless sensation inviting a pure and absolute pursuit of pleasure. She who wears Bonbon, dresses herself in perfume whilst creating her own story. She is empowered, beautiful and complete”.
Ok, so I get what their doing. The ribbons around our painted model are supposed to represent her being dressed in the perfume. But you know what? Without the context of those words (which do not appear on the print ads) all I see is a tied up naked women with a bizarre look on her face. I’m not sure what that expression is, but it isn’t happy. Nothing about this leads me to believe that she is empowered, and I’m not even sure I want to go into the mess of using the words “beautiful and complete”.
In order to better convey the product and remove the use of the female form, I have fixed the advertising. Hope you like it.
Alternatively, a model dressed in sweet wrappers might have made an impression. Again, think where you might wear this scent? How about an excited young woman on her way to prom? A little digging online and you can find this creation –
This lovely young lady’s mother made this dress for her out of starburst wrappers! Read about it here and marvel at the love and skill that went into this. Sure Viktor and Rolf could have gone to a similar effort in “dressing” their model in perfume. In fact, how cool would it have been for them to reach out to some of the amazing artists, designers and even the awesome mum of this lady, in order to bring together something pretty cool. But you know what? A naked woman is much easier isn’t it, oh and of course “sex sells”. pfft!
Have at it –
Dear Viktor and Rolf
I am writing in complaint of the advertising for your Bonbon Perfume. Every day I pass this advertising and everyday, instead of a perfume advert, I see a bound woman used as an object to advertise a product.
Women in all cultures have to endure on going disrespect and everyday sexism. How can we expect this to change whilst mediums such perfume marketing encourages the acceptability of such representations and thus disrespect and sexism towards women? Every time a woman is portrayed as an object you are adding to ideas we are constantly fighting on how women should be treated – every disrespectful portrayal or circumstance adds to the acceptance and propagation of the disrespect. From your website you describe the wearer of your perfume as “empowered, beautiful and complete”, I do not see that in you advertising, I see a tied up naked women with a bizarre look on her face. I’m not sure what that expression is, but it isn’t happy.
Moving forward I ask you reconsider the portrayal of women in your marketing and strive to make changes that will empower rather than objectify women.
– Submitted to email@example.com on 01/06/2014. Will let you know if there is a response.