Can a Perfume Make a Woman Happy?

957 words | 4 page(s)

In today’s marketing society, adverts are something more than mere information pieces about products available. Since 1920s, ads have begun to use images of happy and successful people, promoting the idea of achieving happiness through active purchasing (Jhally 200). Modern advertising industry aims to appeal to society’s cultural code in order to create a cult of commodities and to rise purchase rates. This is especially noticeable in adverts of makeup and perfumery products. A good example is an advert of Donna Karan New York perfume “Be Delicious,” which exploits cliché about femininity and public’s desire to live a “clean” and “natural” life.

Clearly, this advertising aims to reach the female audience. The whole brand Donna Karan New York is eager to be associated with idealized image of New York, which is represented as a rich city with unique atmosphere of fashion and style. Thus, every woman, who buys from DKNY, can purchase not just a perfume bottle, but also a membership in imaginable community of stylish, beautiful, and progressive people. Since DKNY is a luxury brand, marketers wanted to appeal to Caucasian females because they are believed to buy luxury beauty products more often than women of color do. This resulted in casting young model of European origin.

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In general, advertising campaigns of luxurious cosmetics and perfumery strongly rely on two things. First, high-end companies make their products desirable by emphasizing brands’ status. Thus, brands like DKNY and their goods become symbols of wealth and success. Second, they hire talented photographers and designers in order to create a strong message, stating their philosophy. Rarely do high-end brands appeal to rational thinking by providing evidence or referring to science. Most of the time, just looking at the photo is enough to get the idea.

The picture shows a young blonde, holding a bitten green apple. She is wearing a brown spaghetti strap top and a brown knitted sweater, which exposes her shoulders. The text on the photo simultaneously gives information on the perfume’s name (“Be Delicious”) and sends a message to the audience, encouraging women to become “delicious” by using this product. On the bottom of the picture, there are beautiful green apples and a green glass bottle of the perfume, made in the shape of an apple. The first two elements that catch viewer’s attention are bitten apple in woman’s hand and the phrase “Be delicious.” Although the woman is an important part of the picture, she is not the focus point of the ad. This is clear from the bright color of the apple, contrasting her blonde hair and fair skin. In addition, she holds it in front of her, so that the viewer first notices bright green text and apple, and only then looks at the woman beside them. Nevertheless, all the elements of the picture are dedicated to send a clear and defined message, appealing to emotions of potential consumers.

Here, apples represent two ideas. First, appetizing green fruit makes the viewer think about apple’s taste and smell. The shape of the bottle suggests that the perfume itself smells like green apples, being sweet and fresh. This method gives the consumer clues about the product, using familiar associations to describe smell. Second, it symbolizes plain and peaceful life in the countryside, defining DKNY’s message.

The phrase “Be delicious” appeals to common belief that all women desperately want to become better in any way. In fact, this is the main concept of marketing products for females. They are offered to become more beautiful in every possible way. In case of this advert, they are encouraged to become more delicious by wearing this perfume. Primary used to describe food, the word “delicious” proposes new associations, related to women’s image. Who is a delicious woman? The picture proposes to compare her to tasty, juicy, and fresh apple. Apparently, she is beautiful, sexy, and sweet. Since apples are understated and basic, a delicious woman also should be down to earth. The emphasis is on her freshness and decency, not on wisdom or sophistication.

Another message of the advert is appealing to urban citizens’ desire to get away from overcrowded cities and to live a simple life in the countryside. The picture idealizes the country life, exploiting the most common associations. The woman’s makeup is minimalistic and natural; the emphasis is on her healthy appearance. Subtly tanned temples and cheekbones imply that she spends many hours outdoors. The sun plays with her hair, which looks messy in “cool” and effortless way. Her clothing also looks understated and cozy, and earthy brown color emphasizes this message. These signs state that this woman does not spend a lot of time on getting ready, being confident in her charm and beauty. In addition, the brown color goes well with the bright green, making the whole picture look softer and creating associations with something natural and true. The advert claims that every woman can live this relaxed and stylishly simple lifestyle, being in peace with herself. All she has to do is buy the perfume.

To sum up, this is a typical perfume advert, which exploits people’s hope to be happy. Gender stereotypes claim that women can be happy only if they are beautiful and desired by men. Hence, advertisers promote this perfume as an instrument of achieving beauty and peace. Although the perfume itself is just a fragrant liquid, its advert argues it to be something much more than this. Do to so, it manipulates consumers’ memory and emotions, exploiting their desire to be happy.

  • Jhally, Sut. “Image-Based Culture: Advertising and Popular Culture.” Gender, Race and Class in the Media. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean Humez. California: Sage Publications, 1994. 199-203. Print.

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