Seaside stripes, khaki, sunny yellow, Eighties Revival, white shirtdresses: As…
Provocation is the name of the game when it comes to perfume ads.
From too-sexy videos and revealing poses to drug-alluding imagery, we’re looking back at some of the most controversial—and downright banned—fragrance campaigns that have built reputations by pushing pop-culture buttons.
Fragrance: Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme print campaign
Banned: Controversy in 1971
Reason: The visionary Yves Saint Laurent was the first perfume creator to star in his own fragrance campaign and he posed nude. While the ad was never banned, the marketing move was controversial and remained so until the death of the photographer Jeanloup Sieff in 2000 when the now-iconic image went up for auction.
Fragrance: Tom Ford for Men ads
Banned: Italy in 2007
Reason: Tom Ford takes our vote for the master provocateur, with his Tom Ford for Men fragrance campaign that featured a perfume bottle full-frontal between a model’s dewy–skinned thighs in one image, and pressed between her breasts in another. It’s a campaign that takes the “sex sells” theme to a new level. Funny that the ads were only banned in Italy, and not in the UK, where the Advertising Standards Authority deemed them acceptable despite their graphic sexual nature.
Fragrance: Calvin Klein Secret Obsession commercial
Banned: United States in 2008
Reason: A naked Eva Mendes is seen writhing around on a bed, which put people in a tizzy, especially when she let her nipple slip (or perhaps it wasn’t a slip after all).
Fragrance: Yves Saint Laurent Parisienne fragrance commercial
Banned: much hype in 2009
Reason: An exhilarated (read: seemingly orgasmic) Kate Moss is seen in the back of a cab and then on a bed with a man’s hands caressing her—all over. While there’s nothing overtly explicit about this commercial, to say that it isn’t suggestive would be a lie.
Marc Jacobs Bang print ad
Banned: Controversy in 2010
Reason: True to Monsieur Saint Laurent’s form, Marc Jacobs posed nude in this ad campaign, with the bottle placed strategically between his legs. Along with the name of the fragrance, the hypersexuality of the image seems almost to parody our era’s sexualized ad imagery.
Fragrance: Beyoncé Heat fragrance commercial
Banned: from daytime TV in the UK in 2010
Reason:A sweaty dancing Beyonce singing a throaty rendition of “Fever” was deemed too hot for daytime television and was banned until the post-7:30pm timeslot to ensure around the kiddies would more likely be in bed than in front of the tube. Watch the video here.
Fragrance: Christian Dior Miss Dior Chérie print campaign
Controversy in 2011
Reason: A topless Natalie Portman looking over her shoulder for Miss Dior Chérie caused a stir, though the ad was never actually banned. Why all the fuss over? We’re not quite sure—the ad was tasteful and, though suggestive, didn’t reveal too much of anything.
Fragrance: Yves Saint Laurent Opium and Belle d’Opium ads
Banned: Jerry Hall for Opium in 1981 and Melanie Thierry in 2011
Reason: Both ads were banned for the allusion to drug use, with the Jerry Hall ad reading, “Opium, for those who are addicted to Yves Saint Laurent,” and in the Melanie Thierry campaign, Thierry actually points to a vein in her forearm as though suggesting the act of injecting a drug. The catchphrase, “I am your addiction, Belle d’Opium also plays on the illicit subtext.