Actor and philanthropist Brad Pitt has debuted as the first male face of CHANEL No. 5, the iconic French perfume by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel first launched in 1921.
Celebrity endorsement of the scent began nearly 60 years ago when Marilyn Monroe, after being asked what she wore to bed, stated: “five drops of CHANEL No. 5.” Since then a succession of female superstars including Catherine Deneuve, Lauren Hutton, Nicole Kidman, and Audrey Tautou have served as spokesmodels for the brand.
The new Inèvitable campaign, with video spots directed by Joe Wright, who received multiple Best Director nominations for his 2007 film Atonement, has been poorly received by press. Stuart Heritage of the Guardian, after citing previous ads for the fragrance, declares Pitt’s to be “the worst one of all,” Heritage goes on to say:
He was doing so well to shake off his reputation as barely sentient eye candy. But there he is—shaggy-haired with a David Brent beard, desperately trying to inject hammy profundity into lines such as, “The world turns and we turn with it,” that he all but bursts an eyeball in the process—all that good work undone in a stroke.
Despite the criticism, the company explains why the 48 year old Tree of Life star was tapped for the role:
Blessed with legendary talent, fame and looks, no actor compares to Brad Pitt. Of course, the same could be said of No.5. Created by Ernest Beaux, the perfumer of the last Russian Czar and CHANEL’s first Master Perfumer, the fragrance is beloved around the world. The campaign views the fragrance through the eyes of a man and fits in with the “revolutionary” reputation of No.5, which broke down barriers, as well as Coco Chanel, a woman who dared to be different.
Watch the CHANEL No.5 ad below to see if the campaign, as Brad Pitt puts it, truly “goes beyond the abstract of emotion and beauty to evoke what is timeless: a woman’s spirit”: