Ad of the Day: Dolce & Gabbana

Scarlett Johansson's new fragrance spot is totally ridiculous. So, why is it sort of wonderful?

Ah, perfume commercials. The beautiful women, the graceful music, the complete lack of logic . . . what's not to love? As the rest of the advertising industry moves forward, scent-inspired ads have stubbornly remained the same. Whether they show an anorexic model writhing around on concrete for Calvin Klein or a French ingénue floating about in a black dress for Chanel, they've all been done before, and they always seem to border on complete parody. Dolce & Gabbana's new, grandly self-indulgent "film" for The One certainly does.

"Oh, I love Italy," our "eternal diva" tells her unseen interviewer, cameras flashing in her face. "I had an Italian boyfriend once. His mother broke up with me. . . . How do I know it was a lie? Because I read it in your newspaper. . . . Music inspires me. Art inspires me. And so does the wind." And on and on and on it goes, until she reveals the precious bottle of golden liquid, proclaiming, "Oh, I'm not looking for a million things, just that one perfect thing: Love. That's the one." Try not to snicker.

Luckily, you can tune out the drone of clichés, because the source is none other than Scarlett Johansson, who, with her over-teased '50s hair and coyly covered-up décolletage, is still impossibly, distractingly exquisite. Even as she recites a series of phrases that make us cringe, we can't help but marvel at her radiant self. And in a "film" that's apparently supposed to celebrate the eternal power of the Hollywood diva, isn't that the point?

There's no way around the fact that almost all perfume commercials, including this one, are, at their core, completely ridiculous. But they're also a fantasy, an attempt to embody the idea of the scent, which in this case, seems to be a classic, luxurious sort of glamour. (Not that I'd have any clue what that smells like. Expensive hairspray?) And in that sense, it works—as long as we can suspend our better judgment. Because listening to Johanssen claim, "I'm not an actress, I just play one in the movies," without a major eye-roll, takes some serious self-control.


Client: Dolce & Gabbana

Spot: "The One"

Director: Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Talent: Scarlett Johansson

Music: "A Place in the Sun" by Franz Waxman, performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra