It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

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In her latest ad for l’Oréal, Cheryl Cole appears foundation-free, promoting the French beauty brand’s latest skincare product, Skin Perfection. 

In The Daily Telegraph Cole is quoted affirming that “Skin Perfection works to perfect your skin - it tightens pores, gives luminosity and helps to improve skin texture. It has all the skincare benefits you want before you put on your make-up, which means you don’t need to mask your skin”. To which the columnist, Katy Young, snidely remarks that she “has the backing of 73 per cent of the 123 women who tested the range”. 

A panel that small can hardly be representative of the UK, or any population you say? Yet it is actually larger than many panels I found leafing through French, British and American consumer fashion magazines, searching for scientific-sounding claims from make-up, skincare and shampoo brands. Oh they don’t lie, most of the time. They just omit or exaggerate

Aside from the opinion panels that feature fewer than 200 women (Are they randomly picked up in the street? Paid? Relations of people working for the brand?), there are the products that improve your skin or hair, but only when used in conjunction with another, retouched photos, the much bragged about but often unconfirmed patents…the list is almost endless. I look forward to a beauty brand telling the exact truth in its ads. This is a USP I would certainly buy into. 

1 - “82% of UK women agree that Double serum is more effective than their regular serum”. The small print: “Satisfaction test - 194 UK women”. Clarins Double Serum [Hydric + Lipidic System] (Ad published in Vanity Fair, March 2013)

2 - “25+ Patents Worldwide”. The small print: “Patents and patents pending”. Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair (Ad published in Vanity Fair, September 2013)

3 - “Improves the appearance of Fine Lines -31% Deep Wrinkles -34% Radiance +36% Clarity +30% Even Skin Tone +25%”. The small print: “Improvement in average clinical grading - 34 women”. Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate (Ad published in Harper’s Bazaar UK, July 2013)

4 - “96% of women would recommend it to a friend”. The small print: “Lancome trial panel of 124 women”. Lancôme Advanced Génifique Youth Activating Concentrate (Ad published in Harper’s Bazaar UK, August 2013)

5 - “One out of two women tempted by a cosmetic procedure decided to postpone it”. The small print: “After 4 weeks of consumer use. Consumer evaluations of women 35 to 49 years tempted by hyaluronic acid, laser or chemical peeling. Results not equal to a medical procedure.” Lancôme Visionnaire (Ad published in Vogue US, July 2012)

6 - “Our revolutionary gel-mousse formula has 40% less hard waxes”. The small print: “Vs. our leading volumizing mascara”. Maybelline The Mega Plush Volum’ Express (Ad published in Vogue US, July 2012)

7 - “Get results comparable to the leading $200 prescription wrinkle cream”. The small print: “Based on pricing data from November 2010 to October 2011. Use as directed. Pro-X hydrates to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Prescription takes 24 weeks to see full results and results may be different”. Olay ProX (Ad published in Vogue US, July 2012)

8 - “If your mascara promises volume but delivers clumps - that’s false! True volume comes from our big brush, not from big clumps. Try LastBlast Volume for yourself. You may never go “false” again.’” The small print: ”Lash inserts were applied to both of Nicole’s lashes to add lash count before applying mascara.” CoverGirl LashBlast volume mascara (May 2011)

9 - “3 Hot looks in 1 mascara”. The small print: “shot with lash inserts”. Rimmel 1-2-3 Looks Mascara (November 2010)

10 - “Firm, lifted, toned skin in just 4 weeks”. The small print: “77 women - consumer test”. Clarins Extra-Firming Day Wrinkle lifting cream (Ad published in Vogue US, May 2012)

11 - “100% more nourishment” The small print: ”Shampoo ad conditioner system vs. non-conditioning shampoo”. Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light (Ad published in Vogue US, May 2012)

12 - “After 10 days 88% reported skin is firmed and toned”. The small print: “Results obtained using product twice daily, following a self-assessment of 100 women”. Algenist Firming & Lifting cream (Ad published in Vogue US, February 2012)

13 - “86% of women saw fewer dark spots and more luminous skin”. The small print: “In 8 weeks”. L’Oréal Youth Code Serum Corrector (Ad published in Vogue US, February 2012)

14 - “Gel-like shine shatterproof color up to 11 days”. The small print: “When worn with ColorStay base and top coat”. Revlon ColorStay Longwear Nail Enamel (Ad published in Vogue US, February 2012)

15 - “Fiber-fix brush has 6 different contact points with each lash for optimal fiber placement”. The Small Print: “Points of contact between fibers and lashes will vary”. Maybelline Illegal Length Fiber Extensions  (Ad published in Vogue US, March 2012)

16 - “My hair feels stronger, full of life, replenished with a healthy shine. It’s got its mojo back.” The small print: “Styled with some natural hair extension” L’Oréal Elvive Full Restore 5 (November 2009)

17 - “After two hours, wrinkles start fading out”. The small print: “Affects wrinkles appearance: in vitro testing” Estée Lauder Perfectionist Wrinkle Lifting Serum (Paris Vogue, March 2010)*

18 - “100% of women surveyed found that wrinkles were smoothed” Small print: “Consumer tests on 55 women after 2 months” Dior Capture Totale (see ad here)

19 - “The first universal skin boosting superserum by Dior”. The small print: “Bi-daily applications of One Essential + Crème Multi-Perfection for two weeks vs. Crème Multi-Perfection applied on its own”. Dior One Essential (Paris Vogue, March 2010)**

20 - “The skin is suppler and denser (+53%)”. The small print: “Result shown after four weeks according to a clinical study on 25 women” Dr. Brandt Collagen Booster (Paris Vogue, February 2010)***

21 - “76% of women said their friends found their skin looked more beautiful and revitalized in just 2 weeks” The small print: “Self-assessment - 111 women - 8 weeks study” Lancôme Rénergie Lift Multi-action (Ad published in Vogue US, August 2013)

22 - “90% of women find it more effective than their current serum” The small print: “Satisfaction test, 50 women reported, 4 weeks”. Clarins Double Serum (Ad published in Vogue US, August 2013)

23 - “Deep reconstruction in just 5 washes”. The small print: “With shampoo and Express Treatment Conditioner use”. Dove Express Treatment Conditioner (Ad published in Look, 5 August 2013)

 * French copy: “2 heures et vos rides s’effacent deja”. “Action sur l’apparence des rides : tests in vitro”. Translation my own. 

** French copy for the small print: “t = 2 semaines d’application bi-quotidienne de One Essential + Crème Multi-Perfection vs Crème Multi-Perfection seule”. Translation my own. 

*** French copy: “La peau est plus souple, plus dense (+53%)”. “Résultats obtenus apres 4 semaines selon une étude clinique réalisée sur 25 femmes”. Translation my own. 


Posted at 6:00am and tagged with: advertising, beauty, list,.

Paperchase is leaning in

Seventy-one percent of Millennial women might have ambitions other than leadership but if Paperchase, the British high-street stationery chain has its way, these aspirations will change for the next generation.

For its 2013 Back to School promotion, Paperchase devised an advertising campaign featuring a little boy wanting to be a rocket scientist…and a little girl wanting to be a chief executive. Are nurses and teachers not selling to girls and their parents anymore? Or is the chain really trying for fairer advertising?

Says a Paperchase spokesperson: “We wanted to steer away from the preconceived ideas of what girls and boys want to be when they leave school, plus they make you smile.”

The concept for this gender-balanced ad was created in house by the company’s own team of designers. They were aiming to continue Paperchase’s tradition of unexpected Back to School advertising which has previously included a play on words and visuals with a vintage or tropical feed. 

The ads will be on display in Paperchase windows across the UK until the first week of September. Let’s hope they encourage girls to shoot higher and other brands to imitate them. 

Posted at 8:13am and tagged with: feminism, advertising,.

Conan O’Brien called it “nonsensical ramblings”, Saturday Night Live parodied it and Tumblr has got its own Fuck Yeah! Inevitable Brad! page. Brad Pitt’s Chanel No 5 ad is probably the actor’s most criticised film to date, far ahead of Troy, The Mexican and Mr & Mrs Smith. Yet this very pan is what has made the ad so successful.

Immediate reactions to the ad ranged from the mocking to the lukewarm with the actor, rather than Chanel, bearing the blunt of criticism. Reviewers are questioning the rationale of the move in terms of image and career for Pitt, only a few wondering whether its quality can affect the French fashion house. The industry seems more worried by the EU threatening to ban tree moss, a key perfume ingredient, for being allergen, than by Pitt’s performance.

Early reviews focused on Pitt’s shifty gaze and the intensity of his delivery rather than the ad script or Joe Wright’s direction. Media outlets which would normally have little interest in Chanel kept reporting the story because it attained the holy grail of 2010s marketing: it went viral, supported by a strong media buy. People made it theirs, embracing the asset in their own way.

For a brand like Chanel, which has in the past taken strong steps to protect and enforce its trademarks such as a full page ad in WWD warning editors against the inappropriate use of the term Chanel jacket, there seems to have been very few, if any, cease and desist letters. The fashion house is letting the buzz run its own course, which is the only way to sustain it. Would Chanel have preferred the short to be lauded as an oeuvre d’art of cinema and marketing? Probably, but it wouldn’t have had the same result. Having a go at the perfect professional, perfect husband, perfect dad is an integral part of the Jolie-Pitt narrative played out in media outlets, and with its less than perfect ad, Chanel has gotten itself on that bandwagon.

By hiring a name with brand power equal, if not above its own, Chanel has not only generated interest and earned media beyond the fashion sphere, it has taken an insurance that its most lucrative and best known product would be left unscathed. It’s too early to see which effect the ad is having on No 5 sales in the key Q3 festive period but in terms of online success, Chanel is one step ahead of its competitors in the Christmas ad race.

Posted at 1:44pm and tagged with: chanel, Brand communication, advertising, marketing, cinema,.

Gucci Première: Experience The New Fragrance For Women

Lancôme Trésor Midnight Rose: Le Nouveau Parfum Féminin/The New Feminine Fragrance

Gucci Guilty: The New Fragrance For Her

Prada L’Eau Ambrée: The New Fragrance By Prada

Helena Rubinstein Wanted: The New Fragrance Worn by Demi Moore

Givenchy Dahlia Noir: The New Fragrance

Bottega Veneta: The First Fragrance For Women

Michael Kors Island: The New Fragrance For Women

Dolce & Gabbana Rose The One: The New Fragrance

Nina Ricci Nina: The New Magical Fragrance

Calvin Klein Sheer Beauty: A New Fragrance

Vera Wang Love Struck: Introducing The New Fragrance

Paco Rabanne Lady Million: The New Fragrance

DKNY Golden Delicious: The New Fragrance For Women

Valentino: The New Fragrance

Alberta Ferretti: The New Fragrance

Marc Jacobs Lola: The New Fragrance for Women

Visit the Pinterest board The New Fragrance… for a wider choice of new fragrance taglines

Posted at 8:58am and tagged with: advertising, Perfume, which,.

Unity of storytelling across platforms, retail, social media, bought and earned media is every content manager’s holly grail. One voice, one message, one brand: no matter how the customer interacts with the brand, s/he must live the same experience under different angles most adapted to each channel.

With its Autumn/Winter 2012 campaign, French luxury brand Louis Vuitton is aligning its advertising with its show, its store opening events, likely its window display merchandising and its online content and collaborations.

Last March, Vuitton recreated a train station and steamer train in the Carrousel du Louvre, in a nod to its Art of Travel tagline. For the A/W12 ads, Steven Meisel shot models in what looks like the inside of the train. Vuitton has also taken the Louis Vuitton Express to Shanghai for the Plaza 66 opening. In between, the brand invited photographer Todd Selby aboard “to cross Europe and Asia from Paris to Shanghai” (, for a journey documented in photo and video on The only thing missing is an ad hoc social network crowdsourcing Vuitton customers train experiences.

Fashion shows always direct the feel of the season for a brand, but rarely has one impacted advertising so much. Generally, especially considering many brands still go for the traditional, models walking between rows of chairs, catwalk format, the only things from the show seen in ads are the clothes. Vuitton always throws high octane runway stunts showing off its financial means, creative spirit and imposing itself as a leading luxury brand: the previous two seasons saw carrousels and lifts take the stage, yet the advertising featured an ice cream parlour and cars.

Vuitton’s budget, prestige and press support mean it can adopt innovative behaviours, such as live-streaming a show on Facebook in 2009, when fashion still thought social media scary, early and other (luxury) brands follow. Expect a flurry of runway-inspired adverts, either featuring the same props or the same location as the shows in the coming seasons.

Posted at 4:58pm and tagged with: advertising, Brand communication, louis vuitton,.

"View the Blake Lively video at" calls Gucci on its new fragrance Gucci Première magazine advert. For its new fragrance release, with a name nodding to its most expensive, semi-couture Gucci Première collection, Gucci chose the social over the branded, the free-for-all comment over the safe environment of its own website.

Over the past two years, social networks have played a growing role in Gucci’s marketing strategy. The Italian company is one of the top three luxury brands across most social channels, including in China, yet its You Tube activity and fan base has so far been behind. Its Gucci Official channel totals under 4 500 subscribers, its Gucci Parfums just over 3 000, but quadruple the number of video views, suggesting a printed call to action referring to a website, even without QR code, can be effective.

Despite making YouTube its Première marketing central, Gucci doesn’t feature the fragrance content prominently. You need two clicks to reach the Lively video, available on a different tab and which has reached over 320 000 views in three weeks. The landing page is all about Flora by Gucci, with an experience offering everything from a short advert to wallpaper downloads and the Story of Flora, from motif created for Grace Kelly to perfume launched by Frida Giannini.

We’re in the early days of the fragrance launch, with the Blake Lively ad acting as a teaser, and new content will no doubt be released in time to retain fan interest, building up to Christmas gifting opportunities. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Flora You Tube experience replaced by a Première one during Milan fashion week to coincide with the show. I haven’t smelt Première yet but it feels more wintery than Flora, which benefited from a massive push amongst the lighter, floral summer fragrances.

The magazine advert only promises the Blake Lively video, not heaps of content, yet advertising one content, but forcing a different one on the customer, seems counter-intuitive. 

Posted at 5:48am and tagged with: Brand communication, advertising, gucci, Social media, You Tube,.

Same location, same focus on a shiny black car for the opening credit. Although 21 years and feature length and purpose separate the two movies, the John Cameron Mitchell-shot Los Angeles installment of the Lady Dior advertising saga calls to mind the opening credit of Paul Schrader’s 1980 classic American Gigolo.

Screen captures: 1 and 2 from L.A.dy Dior; 3 and 4 from American Gigolo Paramount

Posted at 3:44pm and tagged with: Classy film, dior, advertising,.

The December issue of Tatler has a two-page feature on the ongoing sightings of “Unexplained Big Cats” in England, from the beast of Bodmin Moor to the Blackheath Panther. Along the piece ran an ad for gunmaker and country gear retailer Purdey. I first thought the photo was a country party snapshot taken to illustrate the article before realising it had been paid for. Purposeful media buy or lucky adventures in advertising real estate?

Posted at 8:20pm and tagged with: Tatler, magazine, advertising,.

Since opening their first stand-alone stores in the UK in December 2010 on King’s Road, Carnaby Street and St Christopher’s Place, French brand The Kooples has been mushrooming around London. According to their website, they now have 13 stores around town, in locations ranging from Oxford Street to High Street Kensington - all traditional shopping meccas. The brand is benefiting from a high level of exposure through adverts on buses, in magazines and earned media in all the major glossies.

0ver the past year, The Kooples has announced plans to open additional stores in the UK, to launch in the US, to collaborate with Pete Doherty, to start a TK by The Kooples casualwear line and to add a music component to their brand extension. Strategically orchestrated, the announcement of each initiative has gathered additional buzz. So far, the brand has striven on overexposure with nearly 200 stores and corners across France, the UK, Spain and Ireland. The public is following:  last year, the company generated £21.7m in profits, suggesting a strategic expansion with strong knowledge of the market.

The Kooples are exploiting their brand momentum, but are they at risk of wearing it off by sin of overexposure? Can their image of painfully cool couples survive being seen everywhere and on everyone?

In an article in The Independent, Jonathan Owen defines a “cool” brand as one with “a strong brand name” (The Kooples, wordplay on the couple/le couple, with the advertising concept to back it up), the ability “to defy gravity while the fortunes of many other companies have suffered a reversal in the recession” (Strong financial results) and our desire to “buy them in the hope that they will add lustre to our lives” (Who wouldn’t want to be as young, hot, stylish, international and in love as Fahrani and Luke or Corinna and Johnny?).

To this definition, CNN adds the importance of style and being true to one’s roots (From the clothes to the stores, The Kooples offers an aligned shopping experience), of not trying too hard (Disputable - The Kooples adverts can be perceived as annoying or even fake), of constant evolution (Again, disputable - The Kooples recipe seems to be an endless take on a well-tailored, dark silhouette with few forays into colour), of being protective of the logo (The Kooples is a font logo not displayed on most clothes - instead, it relies on skull buttons for recognition).

No matter how many boxes The Kooples ticks, Stephen Cheliotis, chairman of the CoolBrands expert council argues that “cool is clearly not here today, gone tomorrow, as some might assume, but about lasting the distance and maintaining one’s edge over rivals.” We currently don’t have the perspective, on a three-year-old brand, to predict whether it can last at least another three years without wearing off and starting to bore its once core customers.

Posted at 9:06am and tagged with: Brand communication, high-street, advertising, The Kooples,.

Looking at Tiffany & Co. adverts always makes me want to fall in love, move to New York and have plenty of children on the Upper East Side. No brand sells love and happiness as well as they do.

Posted at 10:00am and tagged with: which, advertising, Brand communication,.