Brad Pitt, Chanel

Sam Taylor-Wood

I can't decide whether I like Brad Pitt's Chanel No. 5 ad spots or not. Just tell me what to think already.
—P. Rose, via Twitter

Done and done. At first, the ads, with their nonsensical ravings about journeys and life, look like a parody of themselves. But I can tell you without hesitation that they work, for one reason...or maybe two or three.

First of all, the two ads clearly have their failings. For one, it makes one of the sexiest, most confident-looking A-list actors on Earth look almost awkward, like he's working with a monologue he doesn't actually understand.

"It's really hard to make Brad Pitt not hot," notes Ann Diaz of Creativity Online, which covers advertising, marketing and design. "Yet they managed to do so."

And speaking of monologues, Pitt's script doesn't make much sense either: "It's not a journey, every journey ends and we go on...Wherever I go, there you are."

I mean, we assume he's talking about his relationship and a lady, respectively. But Pitt could be talking about his obession with architecture and his favorite assistant, who's probably, yes, always right there, wherever Pitt is.

"As so brilliantly made clear by the SNL spoof, maybe they went a bit too far with sense of mystery the brand is known for, with his overly cryptic statements," Diaz says.

And yet, the ad works...because you're reading about it. Again. For the 80th time. Why? Because it's a man selling women's perfurme.

And we're sitting here trying to parse what the heck Pitt is trying to secretly tell us, and just us, and why he looks so vaguely uncomfortable, and whether that discomfort is on purpose or part of the Art, and what Pitt's thinking about as he speaks to the camera, and whether Angelina Jolie was just off camera mouthing the words back to him in an endless loop of A-list love.

"The ad works in terms of getting people to talk about Chanel No. 5," Diaz confirms. "It's a classic, iconic fragrance but one that's in a market increasingly crowded with new brands fronted and backed by celebrities. So I would say it's smart for them to have a male celebrity pimp it for the first time."

And to have that celebrity be Brad Pitt, saying things everyone likes...and no one gets.

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