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Advertisements of Chanel No. 5 Case Study

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Updated: Nov 21st, 2019


Chanel No. 5 is fond of creating commercials that tell a story; however, most of their advertisements star famous actresses, models and performers. It is likely that this approach is intended on eliciting feelings of admiration and self awareness among viewers. The audience may be prompted to purchase the fragrance in order to mirror qualities that they like in the celebrity both within the ad and in their real lives.

An evolution of Chanel advertisements

Celebrity endorsements give credibility to a message as the public already knows that public figure. They are likely to believe the commercial if it comes from someone that they have seen and heard from before. Additionally, the use of celebrities also adds to the appeal of the commercial. Most of the featured individuals are always attractive and this adds to their likeability. Viewers can then transfer that likeability to the product itself (Gundle & Catelli 104).

One of the most prominent brand ambassadors for Chanel was Nicole Kidman. Her advertisement is a reenactment of the movie Moule enRouge. She wears a pink dress which has lots of ruffles and feathers; it is quite reflective of the dramatic costumes of the film Moule en rouge. Nicole appears shocked and disturbed by the paparazzi surrounding her.

Thereafter, Kidman enters a taxi with a stranger in it. She escapes the insanity of her celebrity life by hiding in this stranger’s apartment. At one point, the two kiss sensually. Nicole appears carefree in the ad as her lover reminisces about their night together.

She even claims that she does not care about tomorrow when someone asks her about it. Towards the end of the commercial, the handsome stranger sits on a Chanel logo where he sees Kidman back in character. She walks on a red carpet with hundreds of people surrounding her, but she looks back at her lover and smiles. In the background, he comments about her smile, kiss and most importantly her perfume (Perfume Shrine 20).

The commercial is exciting, romantic and glamorous. Kidman’s commercial is a depiction of the dream celebrity life. She represents a world that many ordinary women can never have but they long for. The advertisement strategy aims at creating insecurities in women who would feel intimidated by Nicole’s charm and beauty.

They would also long for the beauty and love that she experiences in order to rectify that insecurity. If they own the perfume, then they would get a sense of escape from their dull and boring lives. Kidman is the epitome of femininity, and everything comes to her effortlessly. For instance, she finds romance at the back of a cab. The advertisers intended on selling the product as a gateway into the luxurious lifestyle that people like Nicole live.

Similar themes emerge in a Catherine Deneuve commercial. The whole commercial is in black and white and Deneuve does not change scenes. She talks about her relationship where she praises her spouse for always knowing what she wants. He always remembers to kiss her and also brings her Chanel no. 5 when he comes to see her. She seems relaxed and classy in her black garment.

One can deduce this from the way she comfortably sits and talks about her relationship. A bottle of Chanel No. 5 is right next to her as she finishes. This commercial is both timeless and seductive. Catherine looks sophisticated and elegant; some of the close ups and poses she makes are quite graceful. It is likely that the viewers may be prompted to buy Chanel No. 5 in order to mirror her exquisiteness.

Luc Besson’s Chanel No. 5 advertisement was more adventurous and playful. She wears a flaming red dress that matches her sensuous red lips. She then enters a building that seems to have many secret chambers. After getting through a passageway, Besson finally finds what she was looking for; a series of Chanel No. 5 bottles stacked on top of each other. She gets one and leaves the room. Before she departs, Besson then wears a hooded shawl that reminds one of Little Red Riding Hood. A fierce dog tries to stop her but she confidently looks at it and urges it to keep quiet by placing her index finger over her lips. Luc then boldly leaves the premises, but the public does not know where she is headed. The commercial is mysterious, adventurous and sexy at the same time.

Besson signifies defiant beauty; she is not only sure about her every move, but her beauty is quite hypnotizing. The iconic actress therefore transfers her qualities to the fragrance. The audience may be prompted to purchase the product in order to reflect those qualities (Amos et. al. 298).

Marilyn Munroe was also one of the most prominent figures associated with Chanel No. 5, although she was not an official brand ambassador. When an interviewer asked Marilyn what she wore to bed, she cheekily replied that she only wore a few drops of no. 5 (Perfume Shrine 12).

The gorgeous sex symbol sparked off a lot of interest in the masses owing to her comments. She played with the public’s imagination by refraining from saying that she goes to bed stark naked. However, she teased them by alluding to the fact through Chanel No. 5. Munroe’s endorsement signified sexuality and naughtiness, which are qualities that viewers would eventually seek when purchasing Chanel No. 5.

Finally, the most recent, and arguably the most controversial depiction of a celebrity in a Chanel Ad is Brad Pitt’s new commercial. The setting is quite similar to Catherine Deneuve’s ad. It is in black and white and has minimal movements. The directors probably wanted to bring out the classic nature of the advert.

Brad engages in a monologue that contains a series of complicated if not absurd poetic statements. He says that “It’s not a journey, every journey ends, but we go on. Plans disappear, dreams takeover, but wherever I go, there you are, my luck, fate, my fortune” (Chanel 1). In this commercial one can get a close-up view of Brad Pitt with his seductive beard and shoulder-length hair.

This commercial represents an evolution in the 91-year old company’s history because it is the first time that it features a male celebrity. The sponsors of the ad claim that they chose such an approach because they wanted to keep Chanel’s legend fresh. The Chanel spokesman –Andrea d’Avack claims that changing the point of view of the commercial was a creative way of keeping their brand fresh. The company believes that the commercial depicts a woman and man’s seduction through the lens of the No. 5 brand.

In the past, the brand has always tried to break the rules. It discarded all the superficial embellishments that were synonymous with female fragrances. It wanted to convey an honest aesthetic. Consequently, most of the women featured in the commercials were timeless and free-spirited. It is likely that the elegance and simplicity portrayed in previous advertisements was what the producers wanted to convey, but this time they took it to a new level.

Featuring a man in a women’s perfume advertisement can either be massively successful or it can backfire in the creative team’s faces. In this case, many people believe that the latter occurred. Several visitors on the company’s YouTube page have negative things to say about the commercial. They feel that it is scary and out of character for Brad. Others blame the scriptwriters for making such a dull and aloof advert. Brad Pitt seems unconvincing and uncomfortable about what he says in the commercial (Proud 9).

The advertisement also represents a shift from the overall vision of the brand because in the past it mostly focused on messages that the public could relate. Women were dancers, performers and famous actresses. Whatever they said in the adverts were relatable and well understood.

In this case, Brad Pitt’s message was rather abstract and difficult to relate to. In fact, one can argue that the producers of the commercial wanted to generate a lot of publicity for the ad by making thousands of people question it. They wanted a reaction and they got one using a strategy that they had never tried before.

Even though many people have lots of negative things to say about the commercial, this does not change the fact that they are still watching it and talking about it. The abstractness of the message may have hurt Brad Pitt’s brand, but it has definitely worked for Chanel No. 5. The use of a male celebrity for a female product separates this commercial from the rest; it is unconventional and quite strategic.

The utilization of any human subject in an advertisement gives the product being advertised a personality. However, when the person doing the advertising is a well-known figure, then chances are that the semiotic significance of the message will be quite strong. In previous Chanel 5 advertisements, female celebrities have been the message carriers.

They have often reflected images of beauty, luxury, sophistication, mystery and sexual allure. The manner in which the ladies’ were portrayed has often been non conformist but agreeable. In the most recent case of the Brad Pitt commercial, the company has changed the vision of its campaigns from the wearer of the perfume to the person who appreciates the fragrance; a man.

Brad Pitt’s celebrity status is supposed to convince viewers that the product’s qualities are true. He enjoys the scent and thus urges women to try it for themselves. The change of perspective is unmistakable and effective in this commercial. Many women think of Pitt as a sex-symbol. Therefore, if he endorses the product or likes it when his spouse wears the scent, then the product is worth a try (McLean 15).

It should be noted that although the commercial represents a new direction for commercials, certain elements are still in keeping with the brand’s overall strategy. For instance, the chosen personality is good-looking, which is a quality that is ever present in Chanel adverts. The ad is also simple and timeless as is Chanel. Further, the advert is unconventional just like previous endorsements.


A history of Chanel No. 5 ads illustrates a preference for female celebrities who convey images of luxury, beauty and sophistication. Such personalities elicit feelings of admiration in female audiences who can then be prompted to buy the fragrance. However, the last advert is unconventional because it represents the perspective of someone who does not use the product but appreciates it. This is likely to boost the Chanel brand as he is a celebrity and sex icon as well.

Works Cited

Amos, Charles, Gillian Holmes & Dan Strutton. “Exploring the relationship between celebrity endorse effects and advertising effectiveness.” International Journal of Advertising 27(2008): 209-234. Print.

Chanel. . 2012. Web.

Gundle, Stephen & Catelli Clino. The glamour system. NY: Palgrave, 2006. Print.

McLean, Don. Brad Pitt for Chanel No. 5. 2012. Web.

Perfume Shrine. . 2009. Web.

Proud, Amelia. . 2012. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Advertisements of Chanel No. 5'. 21 November.

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