Since the dawn of marketing and advertising, sexualised imagery has been a well-used commodity to sell anything from cars to clothes, and no industry has played on emotion and eye candy more than the cosmetics and fragrance brands. From scantily clad men and women wearing revealing clothes, to suggestive posturing, props and scenery, pushing the boundary has been norm …. Because like it or not ‘sex sells’.
Fragrance is regarded as a powerful elixir, a potent formula to tempt and create desire. It appeals because it boosts the wearer’s moral and self-esteem and transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. In today’s competitive industry it stands to reason, when advertising the potential of these powerful formulas, marketers will pull out all stops to capture an audience and engage them.
The sexualisation of the industry is not confined to big western markets, it has made its presence felt from pole to pole, however advertising standards – the consumer watchdog - across the globe differ from market to market. What may be acceptable in more open-minded countries doesn’t always make it to the glossy pages of magazines in other more conservative nations. Many would suggest the European and Asian markets have adopted a more liberal approach to what is ‘socially acceptable’ while the more traditional UK, USA, and Canadian markets are more comfortable with just a whiff (pardon the pun) of raunchiness.
It was only last year Rihanna’s fragrance ‘Rogue’ had its print advertising campaign restricted by the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority. They deemed the ads, featuring a topless Rihanna with her legs on a giant perfume bottle, could not be placed in certain environments "to reduce the possibility of it being seen by children." So while it seems sex sells, it can only open its door for business in certain malls!
A plethora of brands use supermodels, actors and celebrities, often naked draped over bottles and posing suggestively. Some brands seek notoriety and customers love it … Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Marc Jacobs and Gucci are well known for pushing the boundaries and producing extremely sexually suggestive campaigns, often profile-raising by creating a buzz through editorial comment and even consumer outrage. What’s the saying…. any publicity is good publicity?
While traditionally this style of advertising has relied on women as the centre of attention, these days the men have certainly stepped up to the mark being used more and more… and appealing to both male and female consumers alike.
It’s not just the imagery that starts the tone of the consumer conversation. Think about the names of some of the world’s most popular or notorious fragrances, ENVY, Addict, BANG, Obsession, Guilty, Midnight Fantasy, Opium, Seductive, Heat, Instinct, Euphoria, … and the list of suggestive names goes on and on.
After all it’s not just about the entrancing image, it has to be a total package. The name, presentation, bottle, advertising, beautiful models, and imagery – it all comes together to tell a story, a story you want to be a part of! So, where does that leave the fragrance? Does it really matter in the end if you are buying the dream played out on the glossy magazine pages, giant billboards, or flashing across social media platforms, television and cinema screens…. what of the perfume itself?
Well of course it matters…. this is where the real magic begins. As soon as you spray or gently dab the fragrance on your body you create your own personal journey, then when you know you have the power to take someone on that journey with you… that’s when you have a signature fragrance… when you have found THE ONE.
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