Brad Pitt’s Very Understated Commercial for Chanel N°5

When news spread that Brad Pitt would be the new face of Chanel N°5, thus becoming the first man ever to hawk a women’s fragrance, our imagination ran amok. How far would the deep-pocketed house go, given a history that includes a Moulin Rouge set with Nicole Kidman and an Orient Express set with Audrey Tautou? Not to mention Karl Lagerfeld’s extravagant shows at the Grand Palais, for which he’s imported a real iceberg and, for spring 2013, enormous wind turbines.

The commercial was disseminated online today, sparking bewilderment of a different kind. No elaborate set design, hordes of extras, or escapist imagery. Just black-and-white, no-frills footage of Pitt in a nondescript shirt, throatily reciting profundities about the world and a relationship with either the fragrance or a woman. The commercial is so terse and without glamour (his goatee and long hair appear ungroomed), and he looks so detached at times, that it seems like a teaser.

But the mindset behind the project is interesting, especially since it challenges the kind of fantasy hokum that marketing wizards routinely drum up to sell women’s fragrances. But Chanel N°5 as a remedy for our troubled times? Maybe there is a clue at the end, where Pitt utters, “Wherever I go, there you are. My luck, my fate, my fortune.” As the iconic square bottle appears, he adds, “Chanel N°5. Inevitable.”

The commercial, created by Joe Wright and Sam Taylor-Wood, is the first installment in a series of shorts that will be revealed later. The print images, shot by Steven Klein, a longtime Brad Pitt collaborator, will roll out in a massive global campaign this fall.

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