Most perfume ads are awkward affairs, loaded with celebrities, ludicrous levels of glitz, and laughable dialogue that runs the embarrassing gamut from portentous ("I'm not going to be the person I'm expected to be any more") to childish ("I'm a dancer! I love to dance!"). The ad for Kenzo World's newest perfume starts in much the same way, with a slow zoom on a woman in a glamorous dress, sat at a table in an ostentatious ballroom. But ignore the pretentious opening — this is something a little different.
You might expect such weirdness from Spike Jonze. The director of the dreamlike Her and Being John Malkovich stepped behind the camera for the four-minute ad, shooting The Leftovers star Margaret Qualley as she waddles, krumps, and body pops her way around the fancy-ass venue. Qualley's dance moves have to be seen to be properly described, the actress licking statues, slapping mirrors, and trying her best to control her unruly limbs in the service of selling perfume.
Kenzo World suggests you let the scent "take control" — perhaps that's what Qualley's doing in the ad? Or maybe it's just an excuse for her to try out the moves she wasn't brave enough to bust out in the club? Another Kenzo slogan says its fragrance "dares everything," a classic piece of grammatically questionable perfume PR that means nothing, but plays on vague emotional cues to sound important and aspirational. Most of Kenzo World's competitors also try their hardest to be cryptic and nonsensical, lest customers realize that smelly water is an essentially pointless purchase, but here, Jonze has elevated that pointlessness to an art form.