Ad of the Day: Spike Jonze’s New Perfume Ad Is Ludicrous, High-Octane, Sci-Fi Fun

Margaret Qualley's mutant brain spasms to the beat

Headshot of T.L. Stanley

If you find most ads for pricey perfume to be pretentious and ridiculous, because they are, this one's for you. But it's so over the top, it can't help but leave you entertained. 

The first clue is the name of the short film: "My Mutant Brain." And what unfolds for new fragrance Kenzo World is nearly four minutes of expressionist dancing from a character who escapes a boring black-tie gala so she can chest-thump, eye-roll, body-slam and otherwise flail her way around a glamorous venue (Lincoln Center?).

She's a blur in an emerald-green evening gown. No wonder, since the choreographer is Ryan Heffington, responsible for the frenetic, much-parodied "Chandelier" music video for Sia.

The short film was directed by Spike Jonze and stars Margaret Qualley, actress and dancer (and Andie MacDowell offspring), who shoots laser beams out of her fingers in service of the product from Kenzo, the French luxury fashion house.

The branding, unlike the feverish movement, is subtle. It comes at the end, when Qualley dives through a giant floral eyeball, an approximation of the perfume's packaging.

"When we think about perfume campaigns, we think about a pretty girl with a bottle," Qualley said in a statement. "This clip is exactly the opposite. It's very multi-faceted and different; it takes the spectator by surprise."

The ad serves as the coming-out party for not just the fragrance but also the original soundtrack, "Mutant Brain," from Jonze's brother Sam Spiegel and Ape Drums. It has shades of Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" video, another quirky and delightfully wacky Jonze project.

"My Mutant Brain" sprang from the vision of Kenzo's artistic directors, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon (seen above, with Jonze).

"The Kenzo girl inhabits the present, like right now," they said in a statement. "She's not nostalgic at all. "She likes movement and speed and the way things shift and slide and collide in real time. She's never blasé, always enthusiastic. She stands out from the crowd."


Client: Kenzo World

Artistic Directors: Carol Lim and Humberto Leon

Agency: Framework

Director: Spike Jonze

Talent: Margaret Qualley

@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.