As you are probably aware by now, Brad Pitt's Chanel No. 5 commercial dropped yesterday--and it's a head scratcher. (What's "inevitable," Brad, WHAT?) But the whole point of a commercial is to get you to think about the product, and we bet a whole lot of people are thinking about Chanel today.
Fragrance commercials--which are the ancestors of the new-generation "fashion film"--have a storied history of being odd. Celebs and brands have to try to make their particular scent stand out in a veritable sea of little glass bottles. And you can't convey a smell over TV, so you have to make it memorable, right? Having Brad Pitt say confusing things or watching Jean Paul Gaultier morph shapes is a good way to do that.
Click through to watch 10 commercials from the 70s to now that have us saying, "Um, what?"
Chanel No. 5, 1973
OK, Chanel No. 5 has a history of actors looking at the camera and just talking, without background music. Helmut Newton filmed the divine Catherine Deneuve for this spot, and it's downright disquieting--she doesn't blink. Not even once.
This one is a campy classic, but watching it from the vantage point of adulthood makes us realize that this whole "having it all" conversation has been going on for a long time. I'm supposed to bring home the bacon, and yet still wait for my man to buy me perfume? And oh, you're going to cook for the kids tonight, honey? If we're both working, we're both cooking, got it, mister?? *ahem*
Canoe Cologne, 1981:
The 80s were really a special time for fragrance ads. You'll have to watch this one twice because you won't believe what you're seeing the first time. Is he really spelling out "Come over and f*ck me on my sailboat" with sailing signal flags? Yes. Yes, he is.
Chanel Antaeus for Men, 1982
Another gem of a men's cologne ad, this time for Chanel's Antaeus. It's pretty racy for the time. At first you think it's two naked men wrestling, until it becomes very clear it isn't. And that announcer at the end...
The funniest ads are the ones with famous people before they were famous. Here's Sharon Stone with the worst 80s hair we've ever seen, shilling for Charlie. But in her defense, if some guy in a creepy white suit followed us, we'd push him into a pool, too.
Calvin Klein's Obsession, 1985:
Is that girl with the asymmetric hair playing chess with Valentino in this Calvin Klein Obsession commercial?
Jean Paul Gaultier, 1993:
JPG is one of the masters of weirdness (see: his Euro Diet Coke commercials). In this one he and his friends morph into all sorts of fabulous people. And there's this quote: "Safe sex is so organic." And 1993 was before organic things were cool. So cutting edge.
Dior Addict, 2003:
Liberty Ross cartwheels for Dior Addict in the rain, then unbuttons her shirt and sprays perfume all over her cleavage. As one does. Oh, Rupert--have you seen this commercial?
Thierry Mugler Alien, 2006
That crimped hair is mesmerizing. But that girl scares us. Which I guess is fine since the scent is called "Alien."
This is well after SJP hung up her Manolos as Carrie Bradshaw, but she's riding the wave of Carrie wackiness. Or trying to, maybe not successfully.