Perfume ads have a bit of a history with the absurd. It’s truly a time-honored tradition to pair a tantalizing scent with a very WTH commercial. Burberry has really outdone itself this week in carrying out that tradition. Their latest ad stars Star Wars hunk Adam Driver, and … it’s a little weird. But conversation surrounding the commercial has taken off like a wildfire, with people everywhere buzzing about Driver’s well-displayed talent. And a horse. We did say it was weird.
Adam Driver the Centaur
The commercial is truly an artful masterpiece blending of the sensual and bizarre. The video begins with Driver racing a stunning golden palomino mare along a beach at sunset. The pair races into the waves, Driver somehow keeping up.
Driver and the horse swim through the ocean, the camera panning from beneath to give viewers a few solid shots of Driver’s chiseled physique and – we suppose – the horse’s as well. The pair stay neck-and-neck until Driver ends the race by reaching over to touch the mare’s withers.
The next scene involves Driver gyrating in the water, the horse continuing to swim powerfully, and the camera fading in and out between the two of them. It totally makes sense, right?
The final scene is a silhouette of the pair who have now merged into Centaur Driver, against the backdrop of the setting sun.
We’re confused too. But on the plus side, Driver got to show off his flawlessly sculpted abs and the horse has probably picked up some horse Instagram followers as well. And as for the commercial – it’s for Burberry fragrance, remember? It’s to celebrate their new line of fragrance for men, Burberry Hero. A sweaty, sandy, salty man-horse is probably exactly the icon to represent your new fragrance. But again, Driver’s abs. So all is well it would seem with the internet which is buzzing about the bizarre commercial.
Burberry Hero Fragrance
Well if the goal was to get people talking, the commercial certainly achieved that. And despite the centaur design choices raising a few eyebrows, Driver was the perfect choice to represent this new line of fragrances. Hero was created by Burberry’s chief creative officer, Riccardo Tisci. The scent of the fragrance has hints of bergamot, juniper, black pepper, and an overall mantle of cedarwood.
Per ABC, “The bottle’s angular design was inspired by an abstract reinterpretation of a horse’s hoof and features the brand’s logo as well as Thomas Burberry‘s monogram as a nod to the fashion house’s founder.
‘I wanted Burberry Hero to encapsulate modern masculinity, to play on the essence of primal human and animal instincts, channelling the duality between strength and sensitivity,’ said Tisci.
He continued, ‘I am so thrilled to have worked with the amazing Adam Driver to embody Burberry Hero for the house. He has this incredible depth in articulating what masculinity means today – how strength can be subtle, and emotions can empower.'”
While empowering emotions isn’t exactly the first thing that springs to mind when watching the Burberry ad, the print campaign is a bit more on the nose. Images of Driver posing shirtless alongside the inspired Hero bottle certainly do evoke masculinity and athleticism. To buy the new fragrance, visit Burberry’s website.
A Touch of Zoolander
We would, of course, be remiss if we didn’t mention Zoolander 2. Fans of the movie will recall a scene where Ben Stiller‘s character Derek Zoolander stars in his own perfume ad. And it has… some parallels to the driver ad. Stiller’s character is a centaur too, although maybe less traditionally so – he’s half-cow. In the commercial, the breathtaking model he woos with his Blue Steel gaze milks him.
It’s all very unsettling. But the overall vibe with Driver’s cavorting in the waves with the horse and Stiller’s cowman centaur are laughably similar, and the internet has taken notice. There’s more than that one not-so-tenuous connection though; in the first Zoolander movie, Stiller’s character appears as a merman in a hilariously caricatured commercial, stating, “Moisture is the essence of wetness. And wetness is the essence of beauty.” At any point during the Burberry commercial, Driver looks like he could deliver a similarly deep and world-view-shifting line. It’s a truly missed opportunity that he doesn’t.
Weird Perfume Ads
While this ad gave the internet a case of the heart-eye-emojis and flame-emojis, perfume ads in the past have elicited everything from laughs to horror. Here are some of the most notably bizarre perfume ads from past campaigns:
- Marc Jacob’s Daisy: This is one of the more innocuous on the list, but it definitely qualifies as odd. Two girls who look to be teenagers are frolicking in a daisy field and lolling about with horses, while carrying massively oversized perfume bottles. Sure, why not.
- Coty Wild Musk: Maybe in 1983 it was considered witty, but this commercial induces maximum cringe in 2021. Highlights from the commercial include: “Wild Musk Oil for her, Coty Musk Cologne for him. One touch bears a thousand quivers. Coty Wild Musk: use it before you stalk.” Excuse us, what? 1983, are you OK?
- Britney Spears: The now-embattled pop star once did a series of perfume ads. And they were all a little odd. But the oddest of the odd was a Fantasy ad that jarringly blends a fantasy world where Spears is playfully running from a lover bearing a bow-and-arrow, and an overlay of her modern touring schedule. Of course, the lover shoots her with an arrow and they live happily ever after. Apparently someone saw Coty and thought, “Can we outdo the cringe?” Yes, yes you can.
- Covet: An ad starring Sarah Jessica Parker doesn’t even try to be deep. It’s very straightforward: Parker dressed in a fluffy white ballgown tries to steal some aptly named Covet, and gets arrested. It’s refreshingly wholesome.
Looking back, there are far more bizarre and cringey perfume commercials than ones that make sense or seem normal. And maybe that’s the schtick. These brands often take themselves too seriously so it’s hard to say whether they intend to be overly stylized and ridiculous, but at least some of them have to be intentional, right? Whether intentionally absurd or not, the Driver/Burberry collab has definitely sparked conversation and interest in the brand. And the traditionally interview-shy Driver once again can check, “steal hearts,” off his check-list.