In this section we will:

• Closely study an advertisement for Chanel No.5. concentrating on the areas of text (genre. narrative and representation,  industry and audience.

• Consider the use of celebrity in advertising.

Advertising is the engine house for commercial media. It provides the income to sustain broadcasters, magazine publishers, radio and all the new communication technologies. Producers see adverts as giving audiences information about products and services, and therefore providing them with choice. But choice is difficult to manage and audiences are influenced by many factors, so the role of advertising is to try to target and deliver the audience to producers by converting the message conveyed in the advertising campaign into action – be it a change of attitude, a change of behaviour or a purchase. Chanel No. 5


Many established actors and directors have been lured into advertising campaigns and Chanel has been a regular user of star status to sell its products. After the success of Moulin Rouge (2001) Chanel brought the winning combination of Nicole Kidman (star) and Baz Luhmann (director) to the campaign for its upmarket perfume, Chanel No, 5, They were knowingly using the link between the genre-star- director – and the audiences’ knowledge of this intertextuality – in the hope of capitalising on the film’s success and the glamour of the star. Chanel claimed that the result was a ‘creative first, the film to revolutionise advertising’  (Chanel website).Globally its ‘premiere’ was even preceded by its own advertising campaign and in the UK it was even included in Channel4 listings to help create a greater impression of an event: ‘This is No 5: The Film, a three-minute movie or the world’s most expensive advertisement, depending on your stance,  the film to revolutionise advertising: (Sunday Telegraph, article by Charlotte Edwardes 22 November 2004) At £18 million, it is certainly a first in terms of budget Kidman’s £2 million fee alone is equal to the entire cost of ,the Oscar-nominated 1995 film Trainspotting.

 Although principal photography was completed in five days m Sydney, Australia, No 5: The Film took ‘many more months to complete’  An advert – whether costing millions like this and with a global name or for a local market is made up of technical codes such as composition, lighting, colour, camera, mlse-en-scene, sound and graphics, These combine with genre and narrative conventions and symbolic, social and cultural codes (to use Barthes’ terms). to construct a line of appeal and to deliver messages about the brand image.


This is the unrequited love story, a ‘brief encounter’, It mixes the loss of love based on stories like The Lady of the Camellias   (Alexander Dumas) and Moulin Rouge [2001) with the more optimistic theme of films like Notting Hill (1999). That inside every celebrity there is an ordinary person (in this case a dancer to reference the Moulin Rouge character who could fall in love with an ordinary person whom they meet by chance. The generic conventions – Of ‘love at first sight’. the barriers to love, the memories of love, doing one’s duty (as with the endings of Casablanca (1942) and Brief Encounter [1945) – are all encapsulated in this advert The kiss is a central code to this genre, but, as a romance sex is not. There is the fairy story theme that every woman would want to find their ‘prince’ even If he is a ‘pauper’. Like Cinderella, the ball gown becomes an ordinary outfit in a magical flourish using the appeal to magic solutions, which Judith Williamson 119781 refers to; but there is a twist to this in that this does not hinder romance but allows it to flourish. Chanel had based a previous advert on another fairy story, that of Red Riding Hood, so these references to the fairy story subtly link the two campaigns together.


As with all stories, a series of enigmas and answers help to move the narrative forward. The key enigmas to be resolved are,

  • Where can you find real love?
  • Should you abandon career for love?

As the narrative unfolds this is answered through micro questions such as: Who is she? (We find out – ‘the most famous .. .’,) Who is she running from? We see the paparazzi… and so on, the non-diegetic male voice-over helps to tell the narrative from the point-of-view of the male hero and so positions our identification with both the protagonists, Time and space are rapidly changed as e move from the streets of New York to a garret rooftop and back to the red carpet. These are similar to locations and mise-en-scene seen in Moulin Rouge.

The advert opens with the initial equilibrium of the hounded celebrity. The montage editing, monochrome colour and unusual camera angles connote her flight. The disruption is that in running away from the paparazzi she enters a taxi where she finds a young intellectual (he’s reading) Who does not recognise her because he is so engrossed in his books: She escapes, says ‘drive’ and they have a brief affair in which she leaves the trappings of celebrity to be an ordinary girl. Then she is told by her controlling impresario / secretary [lather roleJ and by her lover that her responsibility is to her public, She accepts her fate and returns to the carpet. The new equilibrium is that she is now in control of her fame she always has the  memory of that moment of escape, that ‘brief encounter’ to remember, she looks back to see theChanel sign on the roof-top with the young man hanging off the crescent moon shape, The camera zooms in to a close-up of the jewel hanging down her bare back, a diamond ring with the logo No.5 inside, the backward glance over the shoulder conveys the impression that even a film star is accessible.

The ideological message’ conveyed in the advert is that love is possible however seemingly unlikely the circumstance, This fleeting moment will be remembered through her kiss, her smile, her perfume, the message is also that everyone has responsibilities and that sometimes sacrifice is necessary in order to meet them, this line of appeal is apparent through the mode of address, the binary oppositions which help to convey these meanings and resolve the fictional narrative are based on:

  • Being out of or in control.
  • The conflict between personal and public life.
  • The differences between rich and poor.
  • Being a celebrity or an ordinary person, the conflict between duty or emotion.

The dominant beliefs/ideologies that are re-established are those of duty and responsibility but also that, for the working woman, a career, glamour and romance are possible. But are these resolutions based in reality?


The Kidman character moves though three representations. Firstly, the hounded beautiful, female celebrity / star, conveyed through an extravagant stereotypically pink flounce dress with hair dishevelled as she runs, signifying how far she is out of control of her status as ‘the most famous’. The stereotype is created by the blonde hair and the pink dress, again referencing Moulin Rouge, a sort of Disney Cinderella look. It is a classic stereotype and would be easily recognised by the audience, It is still a powerful image, nonetheless, one seen countless times in media texts. This creates a certain ambiguity for the reader. Second, the star is transformed by wearing an ordinary black and white suit when, as a ‘dancer’, she falls for the young man in the love scene on the rooftop. Finally she is seen in a black fitted gown, sleek and strong With hair pulled back and controlled as she moves calmly up the red stair case in front of the paparazzi, calmly accepting her destiny: Lighting helps to establish these changes, Starting from high key lighting. With the paparazzi, we move to low key romantic lighting on the roof-top and the darkly lit space when she is told by her manager  and by her [male] secretary to return to the ‘real’ world; and finally to the spot lighting of the star on the staircase.

 The young impoverished lover, Rodrigo Santana, reads, stereotypically wearing glasses connoting intelligence, unworldliness and naivete (he is unaware of her fame). He is attractive, muscular, but ordinary. His clothes, such as the white vest suggest this.  The impresario / secretary in control of the star persona is a male, older, shadowy figure. He stands formally dressed in the background.

 Representation of place

A New York cityscape is seen as a romantic, glittering city. The yellow cabs and the architecture immediately convey a sense of place. The swirling cameras, fast editing and bustle signify the energy of the centre of the celebrity world, Fireworks signify emotion and celebration. They are references to the mise-en-scene of the Paris seen in Moulin Rouge particularly with the roof-top scenes. The French connection of Moulin Rouge is additionally referenced by the romantic sounds of the nondiegetic music, Debussy’s Claire de Lune.


This advert is primarily targeting a young, reasonably up-market audience. The line of appeal is that romance will overcome differences. The brand image is of exclusivity but its re-positioning for the young is that this does not deny romance. The company’s logo of two intertwined Cs is identified with the message throughout the advert. In the UK the advert was shown in cinemas and on Channel 4 targeting the young and alternative viewers of the channel as well as cinema audiences for films like Moulin Rouge. Viewers would have experienced the pleasure of recognising the intertextual references to Moulin Rouge as many of the scenes referenced this in their design through the mise-en-scene and in the cinematography. This pleasure is consciously exploited by the advert In a knowing way,’ The genre and narrative of lost love may also have appealed to an older audience, with possible connections to texts such as the voice-over in David Lean’s Brief Encounter. The element of the man making the decision for the woman may also have linked with dominant ideologies of gender roles and appealed to male purchasers. In a simple way, therefore, this advert demonstrates how genders may respond differently to a particular narrative. Identification for females would be with the glamour and status of the celebrity both in the advert and with Kidman herself, For young men it is with the lover, handsome, strong, a South American romantic who captures the heart of this star, He is the narrator and we follow his desire, For both primary and secondary audiences buying Chanel No.5 would buy into this romantic dream or myth. For audiences, the intertextual references in terms of the theme of lost love, the mise-en-scene, the cultural knowledge of celebrity, Kidman as star, but also the knowledge of other stars such as Marilyn Monroe (the icon of the paparazzi) hunted and haunted star would add to their engagement with the advert. Before she became a star Marilyn Monroe had been pictured nude across a red draped background for a calendar and had famously claimed in 1954 that all she  had on when she went to bed was ‘a couple of drops of  Chanel No. 5!


This advert is pact of Chanel’s ongoing high-profile campaigns linking celebrities to their brand image it appeared in television schedules and was even featured on news programme,Pwhen first broadcast. Campaigns like this have to build uponprevious messages the previous campaign had been based on the’ story of  Little Red Riding Hood and was a two-minute film Much research will be undertaken by the advertising agencies’ involved to make sure that each new campaign reinforces but also changes or updates the message for the target audience to keep it contemporary, and particularly if the product changes or wants to reposition itself in the market place as Chanel wanted to do in this instance. This campaign aimed to bring down the age of the purchaser of Chanel No.5 which was seen to have gained an old-fashioned image. Previously, people who bought it were characterised as middle-aged men choosing it for their mistresses at airport shops or as a birthday present for their grandmothers, Chanel needed to revitalise the brand by getting young men to purchase it for their partners and for young women to wear it.


2 Responses to Chanel

  1. Susie Sand says:

    Thanks Brian ❤

  2. Daniel Agyeman says:

    Thanks Bri Bri 😉

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