Perfume advertising isn't what it used to be, however, so if you're bored with watching Nicole Kidman swanning about like an over-iced cupcake, here are a few of my favourite blasts from the scented past. If you're looking for some last-minute gift ideas AND have access to a time machine, these could be just what you need.
"Everything you wear says something about the kind of woman you are."
The smell: Tweed by Lentheric (YouTube link)
The concept: If you're a slightly uptight woman in an unflatteringly dowdy wedding suit, this fragrance might be just for you.
The results: If Tweed really does say "just what you want it to say", I can only imagine that the heroine of the ad is desperate to say "I am proud to be the Conservative candidate for Flydale North and the fact that I haven't had sex since 1973 is none of your business."
Bonus fact: Lentheric also brought us Finesse (the woman on this ad has the serious tone of someone who's about to confess an incontinence problem) and Tramp, which always confused me, because why would you want to smell like a tramp, in either sense of the word?
"Kinda free, kinda WOW!"
The smell: Charlie! by Revlon (YouTube link)
The concept: She's young, she's footloose, she's fancy-free, she's a gal about town. You can tell these things because she gets out of a helicopter and plays backgammon, which in the visual language of the seventies just screamed "jetsetter".
The results: Despite the rather poor picture quality, the catchy song shines through. And now I can't stop singing it as I swing down the street. Charlieeee! Where's my backgammon set?
Bonus fact: A later Charlie ad from the 1980s featured a young Sharon Stone, working a rictus grin and a "Cyndi Lauper on the cheap" fashion look. Whatever floats your boat, Sharon.
"They say romance is back in style. I say it never went out."
The smell: Le Jardin de Max Factor (YouTube link)
The concept: Who needs Nicole Kidman and £18 million when you could have Jane Seymour faffing about in a conservatory for about £18?
The results: Jane succinctly sums up all the areas where Nicole's Chanel ad went wrong: a) insufficiently massive hair, b) insufficiently massive dress, c) didn't film the entire thing in the houseplant department at B&Q. It also manages to conjure a vague air of Frenchness (your short-cut to sophistication) without apparently crossing the Channel at all.
Bonus fact: Jane went on to write her own Guide to Romantic Living, in which she gives the rest of us tips on how to be surprising and mysterious and hold dramatic dinner parties. I'd ask for the book for Christmas, but I fear I simply wouldn't live up to her demanding levels of perfection.
"I'm gonna make you remember my name..."
The smell: Limara (YouTube link)
The concept: A lantern-jawed cartoon prince lies sleeping in a tower. Who's going to wake him up? A flimsily robed cartoon babe with access to a fine range of aerosols and a taste for a man's tonsils, that's who.
The results: Limara isn't actually a perfume, it's a deodorant, but it's nonetheless in the ballpark of spray-on smelly things so I'm going to include it here. Anyway, this ad seemed amazingly risqué in its day, because not only does the cartoon heroine have boobs, but you nearly get to see them! All the woodland creatures get unfeasibly churned up about this. I can only imagine that it's a thrilling improvement on watching bears shit.
Bonus fact: The song was sung by rock chick Stevie Lange, who also gave the world the legendary "Whoa, Bodyform!" ads.
"For the man who doesn't have to try... too hard"
The smell: Denim for Men (YouTube link)
The concept: Cheap and straight to the
The results: Never have the words "Santa's coming" been so lasciviously intoned. Blimey.
Bonus fact: Denim ads stayed pretty much the same for years: here's a later one for body spray.
"When my man puts on Blue Stratos, I don't need to sing the blues"
The smell: Blue Stratos (YouTube link)
The concept: A masterclass in what passed for sophistication in the early 1980s. A happening bachelor pad with shagpile carpeting! A tinkling jazzy soundtrack! A woman with blow-dried hair and blue eyeshadow! And a leading man with a moustache! Are men with moustaches ever allowed anywhere near an advert these days?
The results: Just look at the guy's expression, ladies. Frankly, you will never be able to love him as much as he loves himself... in all senses of the phrase.
Bonus fact: Who would have chosen to wear Blue Stratos, when you could have had all the macho thrills of being an Old Spice man? Answers on a postcard, please...