By David G. Firestone
Sunoco is the official fuel of NASCAR, IndyCar and the NHRA. They’ve started doing a series of commercials based of perfume commercials. The perfume is called “Burnt Rubber” with a bit of a French accent to it. The website, Essence of Racing shows commercials and quotes about Burnt Rubber.
It’s meant to be a joke, but can I ask a real question? Why are perfume and cologne commercials so messed up? Is there some law stating that perfume commercials need to have needless symbolism, and artsy camera angles? Take this example, from a Chanel commercial. What in the world does any of this have to do with cologne? One commercial that I have grown to loath is this White Diamonds ad that I must have seen a million times in the 1990’s. Watch both of them, and then ask yourself the following question: This makes me want to buy this perfume…WHY?
A commercial should tell you that is is our product, and this is why you should buy it. Why would Elizabeth Taylor walking into a high stakes card game in the 1950’s make me want to buy perfume? Why would a series of nonsensical, non-connected scenes make me want to buy cologne? Most importantly, why would you make a commercial where the actors AREN’T USING THE PRODUCT? At the very least, imply that your product is being used in the commercial! Watch the Liz Taylor commercial again, and tell me specifically, where it is implied that she, or anyone else in the commercial is using White Diamonds?
Could you imagine if other products were advertised like that? Imagine if you made a commercial for Coca Cola, Nike, McDonald’s, Ford, or PS4 and you don’t show the product, and don’t imply the product is being used? You would be fired, and laughed out of the industry! This hearkens back to BASF commercials, but more on that later.
I’m not sophisticated, I freely admit that. Anyone who wants to call me out by saying stuff like “you’re not sophisticated, you don’t understand…” can just shut it. I’m sick of nonsensical advertising for perfume. What scares me is that I’ve done focus groups for commercials, and every second of the 30 second commercial is studied, talked over, looked over, and not left to chance. So what that tells me is that one of two things is happening. Either these commercials are produced in-house, and given no review at all, or people are having focus groups on these, and deciding that they like them.
I mentioned BASF because their commercials in the 1990’s were even worse. Watch one here, and ask yourself this question:Based on this commercial, what does BASF do as a company? The commercial gives no information other that “We don’t make the ______,we make it _____, We don’t make a lot of the products you buy, we make a lot of the products you buy better. BASF, The spirit of innovation” That doesn’t tell me anything. I saw an updated on that ended with “BASF, The Chemical Company.” OK, now that makes sense. Is there any reason it took 20 years to add those 3 words to the commercial and make it make sense? Remember, these came out before we had access to the internet and Google, so finding this information out was much harder.
The bottom line is: advertising shouldn’t be this difficult. Tell me what your product is, and why I should buy it. Don’t over complicate commercials to the point of absurdity for the sake of artistry!