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Mitch Joel


The Business Lesson in Chanel No. 5's Marketing Disaster

Posted: 12/25/2012 7:00 am

What makes great advertising work?

Whether you're watching a panel discussion at the Cannes Lion or reading an article in AdWeek, the majority of the discourse revolves around three things:

  1. The big idea.
  2. The size of the media spend to make enough noise.
  3. Luck.

Sure, there are nuances. Some agencies will talk about the brand's ability to truly allow the agency to spread their wings, then there's the heated discussion over important details like the casting and time spent on the copy.

I was walking through the shopping mall and came across a perfume store. The main advertising in the window was Chanel No 5. It was a massive headshot of Brad Pitt with a small Chanel bottle in the bottom right corner. I just laughed.

Much has been written about the TV commercials and advertising following Chanel's decision to use Brad Pitt as their spokesperson (the first male to be chosen for this particular perfume brand). Even more has been written and created surrounding the somewhat laughable debut commercial featuring Brad Pitt.

Is it true that the ultimate insult was delivered by Saturday Night Live, when the late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show decided to parody the commercial by actually running it as is? They figured, nothing could be funnier that what Chanel No. 5 considered to be a legitimate form of advertising.

The point of laughing.

This isn't about being overly critical of a brand or a choice of spokesperson or advertising creative and more. I laughed as I passed this point-of-purchase advertisement, because it occurred to me that what makes great advertising -- in it's entirety -- is the right fit. That's what makes advertising so hard, so random and so challenging.

The right fit isn't just about the right face for the right product, it's about everything. From the start: is the brand and agency the right fit? Are the team members the right fit? Is the strategy the right fit for the brand? Is the creative the right fit for the strategy? Does the media buy fit? You get the idea.

How often do you think about the right fit?

Media professionals have a million excuses when a campaign fails. "Fit" is sometimes mentioned in the excuses, but not frequently enough. As we all head off into the holidays, take a break, regroup and come back in January with a new zeal to do better and more remarkable work in marketing. It would be well-advised to spend some time during this break to think about whether or not you have the right fit -- in each and every thing that you are doing.

This doesn't mean to start from scratch, and it also doesn't mean that you can't, through the power of effective conversation, stir things into a more productive relationship. What it does mean is that great ideas, luck and managing a budget become somewhat arbitrary when you have the right fit.

Chanel No. 5 probably has some thinking to do about whether this deal with Brad Pitt produced the results that they anticipated. My guess is that your brand probably has some thinking to do as well, in terms of drilling down into the work to make sure that you have the right fit across the board.

Now, over to you: is there anything more important than the right fit when it comes to your marketing?

Mitch Joel is president of Twist Image -- an award-winning digital marketing agency. HIs first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his highly-successful blog and podcast of the same name is a business and marketing bestseller. His next book, CTRL ALT Delete, will be in stores on May 21st, 2013.

Watch Brad evolve through the years...

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  • January 1988

    7th Annual Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon Kick-Off Cocktail Reception. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

  • October 1991

    "My Private Idaho" premiere. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

  • March 1992

    7th Annual IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

  • August 1992

    "Johnny Suede" premiere. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

  • September 1993

    ShoWest. Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

  • January 1995

    52nd Annual Golden Globe Awards. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

  • November 1994

    "Legends of the Fall" premiere. Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage

  • January 1996

    53rd Annual Golden Globe Awards. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

  • March 1997

    "The Devil's Own" premiere. Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

  • February 1998

    50th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards. Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

  • November 1998

    "Meet Joe Black" Photo: Barry King/WireImage

  • March 2000

    "Erin Brockovich" premiere. Photo: Barry King/WireImage

  • February 2001

    "The Mexican" premiere. Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

  • March 2002

    "Panic Room" premiere. Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

  • July 2002

    "Full Frontal" premiere. Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

  • November 2002

    "Solaris" premiere. Photo: Getty Images

  • April 2003

    Event honoring producer Brad Grey. Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

  • January 2004

    "Along Came Polly" premiere. Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

  • May 2004

    MTV "TRL" visit. Photo: Stephen Lovekin

  • December 2004

    "Ocean's Twelve" Berlin premiere. Photo: Getty Images

  • June 2005

    "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" premiere. Photo: Getty Images

  • November 2005

    Brad Pitt and daughter, Zahara Marley Jolie, arrive in Japan. Photo: Getty Images

  • July 2006

    Brad Pitt and Global Green USA visits New Orleans. Photo: Getty Images

  • September 2006

    "Babel" presentation. Photo: Getty Images

  • May 2007

    "A Mighty Heart" premiere during the 60th International Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Getty Images

  • September 2007

    "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" premiere during the 334d Deauville Film Festival. Photo: Getty Images

  • September 2007

    "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" New York premiere. Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage

  • November 2007

    "Beowulf" Los Angles premiere. Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

  • January 2008

    14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. Photo: Getty Images

  • May 2008

    "Kung Fu Panda" premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Tony Barson/WireImage

  • August 2008

    "Burn After Reading" Photocall during the 65th Venice Film Festival. Photo: Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage

  • December 2008

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" Los Angeles premiere. Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage

  • January 2009

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" Paris premiere. Photo: Getty Images

  • May 2009

    "Inglourious Basterds" Photocall during the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Photo: Getty Images

  • July 2009

    "Inglourious Basterds" Berlin premiere. Photo: AXEL SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

  • March 2010

    "Kick-Ass" UK premiere. Photo: Ferdaus Shamim/WireImage

  • July 2010

    "Salt" premiere. Photo: Getty Images

  • November 2010

    "Megamind" New York premiere. Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

  • November 2010

    "Megamind" Paris premiere. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

  • January 2011

    68th Annual Golden Globe Awards. Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage

  • May 2011

    "The Tree of Life" premiere. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

  • September 2011

    "Moneyball" press conference during 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage

  • September 2011

    "Moneyball" Oakland premiere. Photo: Steve Jennings/WireImage


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