Brad Pitt’s dumb Chanel commercials were great for the Chanel brand, apparently

Everybody in the world completely hated Brad Pitt’s Chanel commercials, right? Right. Actually, my mom liked them. She’s not a Chanel consumer in anyway, but she told me she thought it was “clever” and “sexy” to use Brad for a commercial for women’s perfume. But everybody else hated them, right? It was just Brad, in black-and-white, talking nonsense about the world turning and how Chanel is “inevitable”. So you would think that with the ad campaign being a laughing stock – to the point where Saturday Night Live spoofed them – that someone would be getting pink-slipped and there would be hell to pay at Chanel? Not so much.

Bloomberg has a fascinating look at the business of the Chanel label – a lot of it is simply interesting from a financial standpoint, and from a PR/branding standpoint, considering Chanel is often equated with the highest-most tier in the fashion world, the most exclusive, the richest, the highest quality. You can read the full Bloomberg story here – the basic gist is that Chanel is pretty much the only label doing consistently well in America and all over the world, with collections selling out regularly and lots of demand for a variety of Chanel products. I’m including an interesting part about the effect of the Brad Pitt ads…

When Chanel SAS stocked boutiques in November with its latest range of 4,000-euro ($5,380) dresses and 3,200-euro quilted handbags for winter getaways to places such as St. Barts, the company wasn’t sure how consumers would react.

“We were a bit skeptical about the global environment,” said Bruno Pavlovksy, who heads closely held Chanel’s fashion division. Two months later, “more or less everything is sold out. It was quite a surprise.”

“When you get the right product, everything is going very quickly, perhaps more quickly than what we have seen in the past,” Pavlovsky said in an interview last week in his office, a short walk from where Chanel opened its first store in Paris. Fragrance and watch sales are “doing very well,” he said.

The company’s apparent success owes much to how it has managed its image, according to Luca Solca, head of luxury-goods research at Exane BNP Paribas in London.

While Chanel has established a “high position” in apparel and leather goods, it gets the bulk of its 6.5 billion euros of retail equivalent sales from high-margin fragrances and cosmetics, estimates Solca. That allows Chanel to be generous when building its brand, he said.

“They have a huge muscle, given scale, in communication,” said Solca. “Their brand deployment has been spotless.”

Chanel generated hundreds of millions of dollars in free advertising after last year’s hiring of actor Brad Pitt as the face of its No. 5 fragrance earned commentary in the media, Jessica Matthias, an account director at PR consultant Wordville Ltd., estimated in October.

Once the mainstay of Chanel’s business, haute couture — custom-made clothes such as the white gown worn by “Les Miserables” star Anne Hathaway at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards — now accounts for only a small part of revenue, according to Pavlovksy. Yet it remains key to the company’s image, he said, calling it “a creative poster.”

[From Bloomberg]

So, basically, even though Brad’s Chanel ads were universally reviled, they did a good job for the “brand” and they gave Chanel millions and millions of dollars in free advertising. Which IS smart – I remember being surprised that Chanel actually sent us our first ever Chanel press email with a ton of images from Brad’s photoshoot and all of the videos of his commercials, so they were actively engaging the fashion/gossip/entertainment blogs to write about them too, thus increasing the buzz (both negative and positive). And in the end, the Chanel brand not only withstood the criticism, they continued to flourish. Brad doesn’t look so dumb now, does he? INEVITABLE!

Photos courtesy of CHANEL.

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55 Responses to “Brad Pitt’s dumb Chanel commercials were great for the Chanel brand, apparently”

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  1. maria says:

    I just listened to his voice and ignored the visual tbh.

  2. sasa says:

    The power of money- inevitable!

  3. Faye says:

    Those ads did get them publicity, but I wonder how much of that translated into actual sales. I can’t imagine anyone being inspired to run out and buy Chanel No. 5 based on those things.

    Chanel is a hugely successful brand, though, and I think they have one of the highest profiles worldwide. I’m always amazed when I’m in Asia how big Chanel is there– you can’t throw a stone in Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong without hitting a Chanel store.

    • Lucy2 says:

      That was my thought too- free publicity is great, but I expected the article to say their sales of the perfume had jumped significantly. Instead it’s saying that part of the company is and always has been strong, so who knows if the ad campaign actually increased sales at all. I always wonder that about celebrity endorsements- do they really earn back what it costs to pay them to do it?

    • Emma - the JP Lover says:

      @Faye, who wrote: “Those ads did get them publicity, but I wonder how much of that translated into actual sales. I can’t imagine anyone being inspired to run out and buy Chanel No. 5 based on those things.”

      Well, they placed a HUGE Chanel display, with both the male and female fragrance, in front of the main entrance of our downtown Macy’s during the first or second week of December (you had to walk around it when you entered the store). And it only had 1 or 2 bottles left just before Christmas. So I think the sales campaign worked in my market/region.

      • Faye says:

        @Emma, to play devil’s advocate, I wonder if they would have sold that much anyway simply because 1) it was the Christmas season and 2) if you put a huge display of anything, Brad Pitt or no, it’s likely to get attention. Also, a cousin of mine who’s in advertising once told me that if an item isn’t selling that well stores will deliberately only leave 1 or 2 of item on display, to make people find it desirable and ask for it.

        That being said, I could be entirely wrong. Advertising is usually wasted on me — half the time if hubby and I are watching TV and my he’ll ask me what I thought about a particular ad, I won’t even remember what it was for :) .

    • Amelia says:

      Well, Chanel No.5 has been kicking around since the 1920′s, so for a frangrance to have that kind of longevity you’ve got to get people to sit up and pay attention every now and again.
      As for sales, obviously I can’t speak for Chanel, but I did have a couple of (impressionable) friends who had never even thought about buying Chanel perfume, who ran out to buy a bottle.
      Little did they realise No.5 isn’t really a frangrance for someone in their early twenties! I do love Coco Mademoiselle, though. And I confess to buying a little bottle for my Mum when I bought the annual No.19 bottle.
      Releasing the campaign just before Christmas was a stroke of genius, though – ‘Hmm, what shall I get Mum/Aunt/Sister/Friend for Christmas…?’

      • Stephie says:

        A stroke of genius? Please! Coco Chanel was rolling over in her grave…


        Let’s not believe everything we read. I am giving this the side eye, only because those at Chanel wrote it! Do you actually think they would tell us that they lost money because of Pitt? Doubtful!

  4. good_as_gold says:

    I just find it too hard to swallow that there could be any positives out of that ridiculous ad, I think they are trying to save face by alluding that the consequences of such drummed up business for Chanel. Publicity – yes, but business – I doubt it. Chanel no.5 is an overrated perfume as it stands, it is so watered down with all it’s reformulations that it is lucky that people are even still bothering to buy it – especially now after Brad’s ridiculous advert.

    • watchingyoubitch says:

      Actually a few weeks there were articles stating there were a boom in sales after the commercials

      • Christina says:

        Firstly, I’d be interested in how these magazines could get sales figures immediately – normally they take a few months to process and be made public. Secondly, remember that these ads were released in the run-up to Xmas, and there’s always a jump in sales for perfume at Xmas. So I’m still skeptical. Publicity doesn’t necessarily translate into increased sales.

      • Katherine says:

        “I’d be interested in how these magazines could get sales figures immediately”

        Well, they didn’t get them immediately but they have these things called computers now and those computers talk to their mother computers and they can corral stats on sales lickety split. See practically immediate Box office results as an example.

  5. Eleonor says:

    Uncle Karl is the devil! We all knew he was going to have the last laugh. More patè for Choupette tonight!

  6. Hannah says:

    I’m guessing most people saw the print ads rather than the commercial. The pictures aren’t that bad (if you’re into a guy who looks like he should be on the cover of a romance novel).

  7. Ms Kay says:

    Well it could be true… It’s the So Bad It’s So Good effect and it actually sells so I wouldn’t be much surprised…

  8. Kim says:

    Cadillac wouldnt have hired him to introduce their new Cadillac in a market as large as China if the Chanel campaign wasn’t a success.

  9. LadyMTL says:

    Chanel is one of those timeless brands that will probably be around until the world stops turning. :P Regardless of their ad (which was eye-rollingly funny, IMHO), there will most likely always be a market for their goods. I myself have coveted Chanel handbags for years, and one dumb perfume ad won’t make me give up my lust to own one, lol.

  10. T.C. says:

    Proving again that any type of press good or bad works.

  11. Roo says:

    Well, things seem to have worked out well in the end. Good for them. :D

  12. serena says:

    I enjoyed the commercials, mostly because I was lost looking at how hot he is rather than listening what he was saying.

  13. Emma says:

    Obviously. As much as the Brangelina haters love to claim the majority of the world hates them, they sell and garner attention like crazy. Didn’t Angelina’s ads for St. John’s do amazing things for the brand? Yeah, they did. Remember during the 2011 Golden Globes when Angelina was caught freshening up her lipgloss? The media went crazy trying to identify what kind it was and when they did it sold out.

  14. paige says:

    I thought the ad was stupid, but I said Hey Brad is 7 million dollars richer and I said good for him. Chanel knows how to make money.

  15. The Original Mia says:

    Didn’t hate the ad. Didn’t really get the hype or the hate. It was an ad. It did its job apparently.

  16. mln76 says:

    Perfume ads are cheesy as a rule. When Nicole Kidman or Charlize Theron, or Natalie Portman make a cheesy perfume ad no one cares . Brad Pitt apart from being a star is a modern icon and people care what he does this is why they paid him seven million bucks.

  17. Jayna says:

    I swear every time it came on I would burst out laughing watching him and couldn’t finish the commercial. I couldn’t help myself. So cringeworthy.

  18. Swax says:

    So tired of this guy! IMHO, he comes across arrogant & not very bright. Hr reminds me of Fabio in these pics.

  19. G says:

    Oddly, enough I thought my husband was hypnotized by those commecyials. LOL

  20. bohemia says:

    Awesome . Brad is a winner

  21. Claudia says:

    Nah, he still looked dumb. I never doubted the perfume would do well, it’s Chanel after all. All of this very much falls into that saying that all publicity is good publicity (and there was a LOT of publicity). It was still a ridiculously stupid commercial and he should have realized and contested it.

  22. loira says:

    His voice is caressing. I loved hear his voice in Moneyball, talking baseball, now… reading a poem? He could read the Yellow pages and I would still like the sound of his voice.
    Really I do not get the hate. He was not going to be twirling around like Nicole in hers.

    • pwal says:

      I enjoy Brad’s voice too, especially in Benjamin Button. That accent…YUM!!!!

      As for the Chanel commercial, I saw it well after all of the controversy and parodies, and frankly, it worked for me. Mind you, I was in the kitchen cooking and I heard his voice. I came into my living room and watched the rest of it. It wasn’t bad, but I liked the remixed versions that Macy (?) came out with around Christmastime. I think someone mentioned women in gorgeous gowns, with Brad’s voiceover and pieces of the original commercial interspersed in there.

  23. FassDaActor says:

    I’m sorry but I LOVE that commercial. It’s a riot!! I laughed soooo hard. Pure comedy.

  24. Bird says:

    Um, those ads completely embarrassed both Pitt and Chanel. They can try to spin it any way they want, but come ON.

  25. Shannon says:

    Dumb or not, it’s Brad f*cking Pitt. He could sell dog poop. It’s not that much of a surprise.

  26. LibsW says:

    To me it seems like a win-win situation; Chanel get Brad to do their ad which is great publicity for them, Brad gets paid several millions to star in it which is great for him as doesn’t a third of his income go to charity? If it’s a crap advert then at least people are talking about it so garners publicity for Chanel. I doubt Brad gives a crap, a Chanel ad was never going to be a contender at the Oscars.

  27. Reece says:

    Those ads were unintentionally amazing.

  28. That ought to be a big black eye for the media. YOU said the commercials were dumb, most women didn’t. Please be on notice, any opportunity to get to stare at Brad Pitt for a few minutes is great and he doesn’t have to say anything.

  29. David says:

    I think the word you were looking for was “highest”.

  30. MrsBPitt says:

    I miss the jolie-pitts…where have they been hiding lately…

  31. lisa2 says:

    I just love the sound of his voice. Don’t give a rat’s ass about the hate. I guess once again Brad comes out on top. And I saw him in interviews promoting KTS. The man was not embarrassed at all. He laughed and didn’t make a big deal about the negative or talk. Classy as always. Brad has done some interesting and funny commercials over the years.
    People love to make everything that happens to them so dramatic. Just like Angie’s leg at the Oscars. She has not done a RC in over a year, yet every time there is a RC or a leg shown her name is mentioned. YEAH it destroyed her.. Whatever.

    I also loved all the instagram pictures and tweets of people taking pictures of themselves with the Brad Chanel posters. EVen kissing them and stealing them too.

    Brad you did just fine babe.

    I miss the Jolie-Pitts too. Gosh seeing all the other celebs just makes me miss them more.

  32. Heather says:

    Well any commercial that stands out is going to make you remember it at the store. “Oh hey! Here’s that perfume that Brad Pitt did that dumb commercial for! I wonder what it smells like…” and because of that, the commercial is successful and doing what it should-bring attention to the product.

  33. lol says:

    the guy still has lost his cool factor no matter what. he is a laughing stock now and has lost alot of respect after that dumb ad.

    by the way this is the 6th month that we havent seen him and his baby mama together. Enews just posted a picture of him going back to LA and no surprises here, he looks old, dirty, smelly and homeless as always

  34. Deidra says:

    Really? Chanel is about elegance and style; Brad Pitt looks like a redneck, maybe a good looking one, but still a redneck.