Happy hump day! Laugh along with these vintage fragrance ads

January may feel like a month of Mondays, especially with this awful weather, but we’ve made it to another hump day, fragrant friends! We’re celebrating with a look back at some of the most hilarious scent ads of yore.

Now that we’re in the 20s, we are feeling distinctly nostalgic for all things vintage – but it’s easy to forget how drastically advertising styles change over the years. What once was ultra cool can turn to cringe in the blink of an eye. YouTube is the gift that keeps on giving, as far as viewing vintage adverts is concerned, and there’s a whole host of fragrance ads that range from the unintentionally hilarious to the downright dodgy. We’ve rounded up some more of our favourites to keep you smiling for the rest of the week…

There’s a distinctly Monty Python-esque feeling to this advert from 1969. At any moment, one expects a character to ask, ‘Alright, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?’ To which, according to this advert, we can now add: Bacchus Cologne. He’s not the messiah, he’s a very smelly boy!

Lasers, leotards, smoke machines… could this be the dawn of the 1980s by any chance? This couldn’t be more thrillingly of its it time (1981 to be precise)  if it tried, and we even have SCIENCE (along with some nifty robotic dance moves, which I’m pretty sure we’ll all be breaking out down the club this weekend) to back up their claims of ‘pheremones’ in every bottle of Jovan Andron, that are ‘guaranteed to attract.’ Attract what, we’re not quite sure. Stifled laughter?

We can imagine the storyboard the advertising team created before filming this advert for Hawk Cologne in 1981, showing a ‘man who reaches higher’ – embodying all the freedom and graceful power of a bird of prey as he effortlessly conquers the rock he’s climbing. Unfortunately, the images somehow don’t match the voiceover, because what we see is a rather gormless chap with a bowl haircut looking for all the world like he’d need nanny’s instructions to climb the stairs to bed. Ah well, it probably looked good on paper.

This woman is not on the verge of a complete breakdown, she’s just ‘a little bit Kiku.’ That’s all. It’s 1969 and she’s fine, okay? She’s just changing her mood every two seconds and wearing a salad bowl on her head. She’s NEVER BEEN BETTER, thank you. In fact, aren’t all women, ‘a little bit Kiku?’ Well perhaps, but in public we try to hide it. Now take that off your head, Sandra, and come with us. We’ve all been rather concerned about you…

It’s not merely the yellowish hue that makes this 1976 advert look like a cheese dream: we think the people behind this campaign had been at the last of the Camenbert. In an unfathomably long sequence, we see Charles Bronson gawping weirdly at a piano player, then burst through the doors of his own appartment and begin stripping as though he’s joined the Chippendales, all while smoking a pipe. The name of the fragrance? Mandom. Of course it is. Pass the Brie.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

7 70s-tastic scent ads you have to see

A little while ago we regaled you with our selection of reto perfume ads from the 1980s, and you loved them so much we just had to continue the theme. Here, we shift the focus to 1970s fragrances, and you’d better hold on to your bell-bottoms, because there’s much to take in…

She’s been sweet, and she’s been good, she’s had a whole full day of motherhood, and she’s going to have… a bottle of gin. In fact no, she’s going to have an Aviance night. We, the viewer, are not informed as to what ‘an Aviance night’ might comprise, but the way she so seductively peels off those cleaning garments suggests someone’s in for a great time. We can only hope it’s her, alone, with the bedroom door locked, a Demis Roussos record turned up to eleven, and that aforementioned bottle of gin.

You have to hand it to Prince Matchabelli, they sure knew how to roll out attention-grabbing advertising campaigns. Here, we are introduced to the novel idea that a woman can have two sides. Yes, TWO! She might be at work, in a suit pointing at things; she might be at a fancy restaurant behaving all ladylike… ‘but up close, she’s something else.’ Did we mention she has two sides? Explore both of yours by watching, in awe.

We desperately want Mrs Slocombe from the 70s sitcom Are You Being Served to turn up in the middle of this, saying something, crossly, about her cat. Be careful how you slap on that Hai Karate, chaps, because we can’t see many department stores putting up with this kind of tomfoolery in the fragrance section anymore.

This Tabu ad is actually rather subtle and well done (especially when compared to other 70s-tastic scent ads on our list), with a countdown to seduction… but are we shallow for thinking ‘those EYEBROWS!’ when she finally turns around? It’s in comparisson with today’s rather bushier brows, we know, but still. Also, she looks a little nonplussed and about to burst out laughing. Back to perfume – if you can get your mitts on a vintage bottle of Tabu, you really should grab it, because it’s sublimely filthy in the very best way.

‘When a woman puts Denim on a man…’ well, she probably shouldn’t wipe it all over his mouth, no? We’ve seen lots of men put fragrance on all by themselves, and have yet to witness one rubbing it into his lips, but perhaps this was something all 70s dudes did? We like to imagine after the director yelled ‘cut!’ on this one, the male model was immediately asking his female colleague what the hell she was playing at. Perhaps a pre-fragrance-filming tiff!

Enjoli is the ‘8-hour perfume for the 24-hour woman’, which has us wondering – why not a 24-hour perfume to match her cut and thrust lifestyle? If she’s not ‘cooking bacon in a pan’, she’s ‘blowing kisses’, and somehow managing to go to work in between. It’s non-stop (unlike the perfume, apparently). Yes, this entire advert’s take on Peggy Lee’s “I’m A Woman” might leave you wondering why, quite often…

Finally, for deliberately funny one, watch this commercial for ‘Charming’ (clearly a spoof of the Revlon Charlie ads) which was a sketch on the Donny & Marie Osmond Show. We love commedian and actress Ruth Buzzi as the second ‘Charming girl’ trying out for the part – a more realistic representation that we can definitely relate to!

Written and selected by Suzy Nightingale