Monday, December 20, 2010

Every Holiday Begins With Ho

Classy, I know.

But the way advertisers try to disconnect men from their money around the holidays in the name of love and/or sex simply appalls me. Every jewelry ad boils down to, "If you want to get some, it'll cost you". Ahem. We have words for that, and they don't begin with K.

The holiday jewelry ads have annoyed me since forever. When Liv was still in grade school, she and her bestie worked up a very mockingly sarcastic "He went to Jared" bit that cracked my stuff up every time.

Yep, guys. We all want jewelry. It not only lets us know how much you love us (the bigger the diamond, the greater the love, of course), but it also provides us with the opportunity to make our girlfriends, in the words of that great role model, Scarlett O'Hara, "pea green with envy". Win/win. A man who wants us and women who want to be us. That right there is queen of the world stuff, baby. To quote another great role model, David Lee Roth, "you'll get some leg tonight, for sure!"

But lately I've been able to look past my white hot hatred of holiday jewelry commercials to take a look at - and give some thought to - holiday perfume commercials. The band Free famously said, "Love? Lord above. Now you're trying to trick me in love." The song was covered by another great role model, Rod Stewart. Just sayin'. If you want to skip all the pesky love stuff and get back, as those bad boys (and great role models) from Boston, Aerosmith, tell us, "to the real nitty gritty", well, look no further than perfume.

I clearly remember the first perfume ad that had an effect on me. The year was 1973, my age (for those of you keeping track) was 11, and the perfume was You're the Fire, by Yardley.

It was a drugstore perfume with a hot, hot, hot ad campaign. My fast changing, entering into adolescent territory body and mind looked at the women in that ad in open wonder. How, oh how, could my awkward little "not a girl not yet a woman" (another great role model quoted! Britney Spears!) self become a sizzling entity like THAT? Well, they gave me the answer right there in the ad. You're the Fire. I had to had to have some.

Well, I told my Aunt Gert this and - as she adored me and was very indulgent - she bought me a bottle for Christmas. I held this bottle of elixir like it was the answer to all of my many many (many many many) 11 year old questions.

Thank goodness my mother told me I wasn't allowed to spray any on right there at the Christmas party. Once home, though, I couldn't wait to pump that first spritz onto my wrist to begin my transformation from goofy girl to super-hottie. I closed my eyes and sprayed, then slowly lifted my wrist towards my nose to get a whiff of full-on womanhood. My wrist wasn't anywhere NEAR my nose before I was gagging. Apparently, full-on womanhood smells a lot like cat pee. But stronger. Now, of course, this in unfair to the fine folks at Yardley. I have since learned that no scent is universally pleasing - that wearing perfume is really more of a chemistry experiment. The experiment involving You're the Fire and me was an epic fail.

Since then, I've had two fragrance loyalties - two chemistry experiments that turned out well. Calvin Klein's Obsession in the 80's and Estee Lauder's Pleasures now. The Obsession ads were weird and avant garde and very very sexy. (You know. In a weird, avant garde sort of way...) Surely the woman who wore Obsession would be intelligent, mysterious and aloof. Not everyone would understand her, but she wouldn't care -because she would understand herself. Also, she would drive men to distraction and they would beg for a longer trip. Or - um - something. I don't know. I got a little confused. If living with obsession is a sin, let me be guilty.

Yep. I loved me some Obsession. I even decorated the bathroom in my sweet little townhouse in shades of brown that would match the bottles, so much of the product was housed there. Perfume, body lotion, hand lotion, shampoo, conditioner, hair spray - the list went on. If they made it, and it smelled like Obsession, I owned it. In retrospect my scent probably preceded me. At least it was a nice scent. Big. bold. 80's, baby.

Was I drawn to the ads or the scent? Oh, definitely the scent.

Also, the SNL spoof ad for Compulsion, by Calvin Kleen was classic. (not available online, but don't think for a minute that I didn't have a good time searching for it.....)

But the 80's passed and I no longer wanted to identify as an international woman of mystery and avant garde intrigue, plus, I was really tired of the brown bathroom, so I began the search for a new scent. As I mentioned, the eventual result of that search was Pleasures and, as I am still quite frequently complimented on it, I think I made the right decision. What? People only say "you smell great" when they can't think of anything nice to say about the way you look? Damn. You're mean.

The ads for Pleasures feature Gwyneth Paltrow and look a little something like this:

Now, anyone who knows me in real life knows that I DEFINITELY did not choose this scent based on the ad. Gwyneth is the anti-me. Between the voice overs and the puppies and the white dresses and the fields of wild flowers, I keep expecting to hear, "Now? You are a woman. Your body has gone through some changes recently....."



The ads worked on me when I was an adolescent looking for my fire, they were a pleasant enough reinforcement when I was in my 20's pursuing my obsession, but now, if they have an effect on me at all, it's a negative one.

So who are these ads aimed at?

Why, men, of course.

Men who dig that visual of Gwynnie doing her weird hip thrust thing in the meadow, for example, might present their lady with a bottle of Pleasures.

A quick google search on perfume ads 2010 turned up such words as: topless, guilty, racy, banned, soft porn, sexy, too hot... WAIT! Come back! I wasn't done talking to you!!!

A few tips for guys thinking of going the perfume route:

1. A nice scent does NOT make our clothes fall off. Seriously.

2. It's not a good idea to choose a scent for a woman based on what it smells like in the bottle. You need to see - um - smell - how it reacts with her chemistry. There is often quite a bit of disparity between the two, and perfume ain't cheap. Buy her a scent you know she likes or go for something else. Jared might have some suggestions.

3. Women over the age of consent don't like AXE. We really really don't. So - if you go to a club doused in it, women will not pull each others hair to get to you, even though the commercials imply that they might. It does, however, seem to have an effect on young adolescent females. Stay out of jail, guys. Step away from the AXE.

Now if you'll excuse me - I have some bacon to fry (and I know a couple few men - AND women - who would find that scent to be far more alluring than any of those previously discussed...)


Unknown said...

A really funny post! As a teenager, I loved chanel #5. I don't know why...I did like the fragrance, but there was something mysterious about the name.

Unknown said...

Haha! I loved White Linen back in the day, or at least the way it smelled on Joni Baker. I had to laugh at the Axe bit. The idea got some wall traffic on FB a couple months ago and I think you had adolescent girls things to say then as well :)

Swine said...

I've been been buying Pleasures for some time, but for myself. I sprinkle a few drops out back every morning and wait for Gwyneth to come do her hip-thrust thing in my yard. So far no luck.

Cheryl said...

Ignoring perfume and make-up ads since 1968 when I realized I was allergic to all of them. 11 years old and already a failure at womanliness. Sigh.

Hello Jodi said...

Now that I've found a scent I really love (Waikiki Pikake by Pacifica) I love in constant fear of it being discontinued.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I was a timid teenager--I liked "Lily of the Valley" and "Chantilly." Much later, I loved Obsession (despite the commercials, not because of them), but more than a drop was overwhelming. After that bottle turned bad, I never found another scent that I liked. My bold scent these days is vanilla-scented body lotion.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Forgot to say that I always LOVED the Enjoli ad. Until I decided it expressed all the pressure we women were putting on ourselves to do and be everything. Seeing it today, I still respond positively to it (though I have no idea what Enjoli smelled like).

Unknown said...

this cracks me up. Fragrance is just so personal!! I often find scents now that I think are nice, but might be too "young" for me to wear. When did this happen?
Do you remember Jean Nate? I used to SPLASH that stuff on me!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh Tammy, I enjoyed this so much-- Fabulous writing, thank you.

Back in the day I think it was Jean Nate that we all "splashed" (heavily) on our flat chested selves but it was "White Shoulders" that I would sneak from my mom when I was in high school. Now, I don't wear any scent except Dove...

I'm sending this to my gal pals from high school. The trip down memory lane will make them smile too.

Merry Christmas, xo jj

dkWells said...

Great post Lady T! Yep, men are simple beings of "obsession" and "pleasure". I succumbed to my first adolescent scent due to a commercial basically recalling a Roman Orgy, called "Roman Brio". No where to be found, thank God, 42 years later! I too have found the chemistry test the best. Today that translates to Polo Black, and I hate the commercials. Being in advertising and knowing what a diamond really costs, you'll never find me at Jared's.
Sir Hook Who Always Puts the Ho in Christmas of Warrick

Claudya Martinez said...

I just saw an ad last night with Charlize Theron ripping off all her jewelry and clothing because all she needs is her fragrance.

Lizzie said...

i always feel like i need to cover my kids eyes when a perfume commercial comes on!!