Aramis: back to the future with ‘all a man is’ campaign

I’ve said on many occasions that Aramis is one of my favourite fragrances ever. Launched in the mid-sixties (only a few years before I myself was ‘launched’) it’s a truly iconic fragrance – warm, sexy and ferocioulsy masculine. The fact that it’s still around all these years later is a testament to its enduring appeal and how fundamentally right it is as a fragrance. As a brand, I’ve always thought it rather stood apart from the crass commercialism of some of the other large fragrance brands too, eschewing D-list actors and flavour-of-the-moment pop stars.

So it was with mixed feelings that I watched the launch of it’s new TV and ad campaign featuring Brit model Paul Sculfor last week. I might not wholly approve but I can hardly blame Aramis for wanting to get  a ‘face’ to front the brand in the run-up to the lucrative Christmas market. It’s completely ‘of the moment’ to do so and in an increasingly-competitive marketplace one of the easiest – cynics might say laziest – ways to catch a customer’s eye.

What’s fascinating, though, is the absence of women from the majority of male fragrance print ads thesedays (a woman is nowhere to be seen in the Aramis print ad and she’s barely there in the TV one). Is it a sign, perhaps, that men no longer want to buy fragrances simply to get the girl but to be attractive and desirable for themselves? In today’s ads the man is the object. You want to be him, have a meaningful bromance with him, rather than have his power over women.

Or is it simply because a huge percentage of men’s fragrances are still bought by women? I mean, what better way to attract a female buyer than with an ad featuring an attractive man but no competing female?  Answers on a postcard please – or in the comments section on here if it’s easier.

What also struck me about this campaign – from the moment the ad and slogan were unveiled at the swanky W Hotel – is how seventies it is. It so reminds me of those ads I grew up with as a child – you know the ones with slogans like ‘the scent of a man’, which is why I called this post ‘back to the future’. Whether the ad’s retro feel is intentional or not I don’t know, though I certainly hope it is or some poor soul in the ad agency is stuck in a Gene Hunt-style timewarp.

I must confess I have absolutely no idea what ‘all a man is’ means and frankly, don’t have the energy or inclination to figure it out either. Actually, I suspect that, like so many catchy slogans it simply sounds good without meaning anything at all, in the same way that some works of art are compelling but intentionally impenetrable to prevent mere mortals from picking them to pieces and exposing their faults. Still, the reassuring thing is that Aramis the fragrance is good enough to rise above such fluff and ephemeral marketing to retain its place in the pantheon of truly great men’s fragrances.