To the public – and the creatives who choose not to make them – pretentious perfume advertising represents all that is shallow and baffling about the industry. The storylines are non-linear at best and nonsensical at worst, while the aesthetic is invariably frantic and too glossy to connect on any real emotional level.
If a product shows up at all it’s an anomaly. The brand name is often only whispered once – always alluringly – to camera.
The ridiculousness of this creative monotony, which even Spike Jonze’s acclaimed Kenzo work failed to break, may be bad for business – but it’s ripe for parody. Jimmy Fallon, Lee Mack, Michelle Williams and even McDonald’s have tackled the medium in satire; now one Twitter account’s hilarious storyboarding is taking it one step further.
Perfume Ads for Sale sprang up in January this year. The account follows no-one yet pitches ideas for perfume commercials on the regular – stating that each idea costs a bargainous £5,000. Featured storylines include ‘Jayden Smith cradling a glass egg, naked’, ‘Natalie Portman [with] no hair, a sombrero, angel wings and two beards’ and ‘Taylor Swift as a Zulu warrior riding an ostrich into battle, brandishing a super soaker’.
The Drum contacted the anonymous page in the hope of a rich exposé full of insight into the account’s higher purpose. What we got was…well, this:
Who are you? Can you tell us?
I am the dreams you can see.
I am the passing of time in an old man’s eyes.
I am the tender touch of a lover.
I am you, me, and many A-list celebrities.
I am to be experienced, deep within and without.
I am deserving of several thousand pounds.
Cuba Gooding Jr. sits cross-legged on an empty stage holding a skull
“Do you dare to breathe?”
He laughs (over-acted)
Serious again. Standing up. Walking towards us. Pointing
“Do I not disgust you?” (subtitled in Hebrew)
He punches the camera
— PerfumeAdsForSale (@PerfumeAds) February 21, 2018
When did you launch Perfume Ads for Sale?
Where to begin?
I have always been.
There was no beginning.
Only a middle.
The end shall be £5000,
Payable via bank transfer.
What were your reasons for launching the account?
What am I looking for?
Art does not need a reason, only authenticity.
Tumbleweed rolls along a vast desert.
But it's no tumbleweed. It’s Shia LaBeouf doing backflips.
He stops at a cactus.
But it's no cactus. It's a model.
They kiss, slowly.
But no. He's drinking her.
Shia turns to us, face like a pin cushion.
"The thirst is real"
— PerfumeAdsForSale (@PerfumeAds) February 20, 2018
How do you develop your amazing, but bonkers creative ideas?
Inspiration can be found in many places.
The laughter of a piano.
The gurgling of a sacred brook.
The silence of a train.
The sight of a land crab.
A moonbeam dancing in a tub.
Why do you think the standard perfume ad is often so ludicrous, creatively speaking?
Are we ever truly awake?
Are there any perfume ads that you think are good, or that aren't as bad as the rest?
True art is priceless.
It is a truth once known, now forgotten.
A hidden tomorrow.
An echo of the infinite.
The wailing of a newborn bee.
It is a briefcase containing £5000,
sent to us securely via recorded mail.
Dusk. Cameron Diaz stands on an outcrop of rock wearing a necklace of hooves.
“How far is the distance?”
She looks to the horizon.
“Love is wild”
She produces a telescope.
“Like the ox, it cannot be tamed”
Her POV through the scope: Adrien Brody destroying a harp.
— PerfumeAdsForSale (@PerfumeAds) February 14, 2018
What are your favourite scenarios that you've devised for the account?
Those yet to come.
Those to be found in the smile of a horse’s nephew.
Those that will earn us £5000.
Disclosure: The Drum was invoiced £42,000 for this interview.