Brad Pitt is Hawking Chanel No. 5?

I’m not saying that the sight of Mr. Pitt offends my eyes, but I’m curious about this first-ever ad for the legendary women’s fragrance starring a man.

Vanity Fair, in an article called “Smelling them Softly”, offers an interesting take: “the founding couturière cleverly revolutionized women’s fashion by raiding her boyfriends’ closets for such comfortable haberdashery staples as boaters, cardigans, tweeds, and jerseys.” VF also quotes Maureen Chiquet, C.E.O. of Chanel. “’No. 5 is the most iconic fragrance of our time, and Brad Pitt is the most iconic actor of our time. Women in every culture love No 5. No matter where you are, No. 5 is there.’”

Newser‘s take is pretty good,too: “we’d simply like to draw your attention to the crazy pretentious ad, in which a deadly serious Pitt intones, ‘It’s not a journey. Every journey ends, but we go on. The world turns, and we turn with it.'”

The blogs at explain how director Joe Wright (my personal favorite – think Hanna, Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, Anna Karenina) seems to have wasted his talent on this lackluster spot: “you would think that the folks over at Chanel might want him to do something that requires more than turning on a camera and pointing it at Brad Pitt. Guess not. The fashion company has unleashed the new spot for their upcoming campaign for Chanel No. 5 and it looks like Pitt has some leftover voiceover from ‘The Tree Of Life’ he didn’t use.” called Pitt’s appearance in the ad “inevitable”… And that makes me curious. What’s so inevitable about it? The fact that a handsome man is selling ladies’ perfume? But to whom is he selling it, ladies or men? Perhaps it is inevitable that advertisers would try casting a handsome, successful man to sell stuff to women. After all, just today The Price is Right debuted their very first hunky male spokesmodel…

But this ad seems very gender-neutral in its target. Sure, it has a soap opera sensibility that we classically equate with housewives and pensioning grannies. But I think, as Pitt explains with an emo gaze into nothingness, the world does turn, and we do turn with it. Which perhaps means that life as we know it is changing.

Is this Chanel’s way of saying that the idea of what is “masculine” is blurring with what is “feminine”? That a man may wish to wear a soft, thoughtful, delicate fragrance as opposed to Axe Body Spray, and that’s just fine? Or are they just using a hunk to hock expensive stuff to fangirls?

Either way, I think it’s an interesting choice to cast a man to sell ladies’ fragrances, and am very interested in how the market will react and in what (if any) way the costumer base of Chanel No. 5 may shift.

What do you think of Brad Pitt’s new Chanel No. 5 ad? Who do you think is the intended target of these ads—men, women or both?


To see a short film about the history of Chanel No. 5, visit the Chanel YouTube page. It’s actually pretty fascinating, and incredibly well-made.



*note: title changed to correct a misspelling


About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane,,, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner due to the fact that I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this topic here on your web page.

  2. This is almost exactly like the way curvaceous young lovelies draped over car hoods were the go-to image for marketing back in the 60s. For years cars were marketed almost exclusively to men, at least the ones that weren’t station wagons/minivans/SUVs or whatever the curent wifewagon was at the time. I think they still use basically the same mechanism at the annual roll-outs of new models. And this is pretty much the same mechanism here too.

  3. When you think about it,all they’re doing is taking an approach they’ve used for decades with men(I mean, who hasn’t seen the commericial with the georgous woman purring”Mmmm, there’s something about an Aqua Velva man”) and flipping it over to use on women. It’s so simple, it makes you wonder why no one thought of it sooner!

  4. It’s pure marketing genius! Women see Brad Pitt on the screen and you instantly got their attention! As far as their men go, thy’ll see them paying rapt attention and assume it’s because they’re intrested in the product. So the next time they’re in the ‘doghouse’ and need to get her a gift, guess what they’ll remember. I predict this will be so successful , others are sure to follow.Ican see Daniel Craig (with no shirt on of course) hawking Summers Eve (“I like my women to smell fresh.”) Or Hugh Jackmen (again minus a shirt) jogging along saying “I only run with women in Reebok running shoes!” The possibilities are endless!

  5. Love it! Love his voice! Who cares what he is selling!

    Someone please hire Gilles Marini and William Levy to do “emo” commercials!

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