Chanel’s New Spokesperson is the Pitts

What’s that smell?

It’s Eau de Brad Pitt—otherwise known as Chanel No. 5.

Yes, Mr. Jolie himself has signed on to become the first-ever male spokesperson for the iconic perfume, joining the ranks of Marion Cotillard, Audrey Tautou, and, of course, Nicole Kidman.

The move has certainly raised eyebrows, given that Chanel No. 5 is, after all, a women’s fragrance. While some industry experts have argued that if any man can fill this role, it’s the perennially sexy Pitt, other critics (at least from my unscientific sampling of comment feeds) have used the words, “smelly,” “old,” and “bearded homeless man.”

Of course, it doesn’t help that every post I’ve read on this announcement features a picture of Pitt looking like a smelly, old, bearded homeless man.

Photo by Georges Biard

However, as Businessweek notes, Chanel is likely not going after Brad Pitt just for Brad Pitt. His endorsement “is a way of saying Angelina Jolie without saying Angelina Jolie,” notes William M. O’Barr, professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University and author of ADText, an online textbook about advertising and society.

Sidney J. Levy, professor of marketing at the University of Arizona, points out that with Pitt as spokesman, “There is also the implication that the fabulous Ms. Jolie might use the perfume, and thus be worthy of emulation.”

O’Barr also observes that Pitt embodies the “classic beauty” element that Chanel No. 5 has consistently portrayed in their ads. This would likely explain why they didn’t go after a Ryan Gosling or Zac Efron type, for example.

And, not surprisingly, this unconventional endorsement has already garnered more publicity than your average celebrity fragrance announcement (unless you’re Adam Levine), so there is something to be said for the shock value of it all—especially in a category where everyone and their mom seems to be peddling a scent. (Except for yours truly—it takes all my strength not to gag and pass out when I wander into the perfume section of a department store. Too. Many. Smells.)

Actually, I think this endorsement could work for Chanel. My guess is, Pitt—who is reportedly getting paid seven figures for this deal—will clean up just fine for the ads and give the classic fragrance a bold new flavor (er, smell?) that is still in keeping with their brand personality. In any case, we won’t have to wait long to find out—Pitt’s first spot will hit the airwaves overseas later this year.

Adam Levine Smells Like Mean Spirit

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine recently got a very public reminder that sending your personal musings out into cyberspace sometimes comes back to bite you in the arse—like a digital boomerang of regret.

Last week, the musician and coach on NBC’s talent show The Voice announced that he will be launching new fragrances next year for men and women, called “222″ (his lucky number and the name of his fashion line and record label).

This would be all well and good if Mr. Levine hadn’t taken to Twitter a year ago to express his disdain for star scents:

Of course, this passing sentiment might have remained hidden among his countless other thoughts and feelings and dreams—if it weren’t for Christina Aguilera. (If I had a nickel for every time a sentence ended with those exact words…)

Yes, Levine’s fellow coach on The Voice—and a celeb with her own line of fragrances—took to her Twitter feed following the 222 announcement to call out her colleague on his hypocrisy and link to his March 2011 tweet:

Levine soon responded to Aguilera’s comments—which he called “funny and silly and friendly”—with another admission that he does, in fact, “hate the idea of a celebrity fragrance, absolutely, 100 percent.” But, he counters, “I want to do a thing that’s never done properly.”

I think Elizabeth Taylor just rolled over in her grave.

http://youtu.be/_LGFmhVMyCM

In the end, I don’t think Mr. Levine’s little slip-up will really do much damage. If anything, it’s given his fragrance a great deal of publicity already—and it won’t even be launched for another year. Plus, I think the folks who would actually buy 222 care more about looking at (and, I guess, smelling like) Adam Levine than about giving any real thought to what he says. After all, part of his persona is wrapped up in being a d-bag, so this whole episode is really just par for the course.

In the words of Levine himself: “’You wouldn’t be a complete band without a slightly cocky frontman, would you?’”