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When History and Marketing collides, there is only one who wins. And it is not Marketing. For this christmas Dior and Chanel are battling with one common weapon: Marilyn Monroe. The problem is that Dior features Marilyn Monroe perfuming herself with J’Adore  during a Dior couture’s fashion show. This is what we call an anachronism which is fine as it is an advertising. The problem is that Chanel just stroke back with a true Marilyn Monroe talking about Chanel N.5. And here, it is history! Sorry Dior but you loose.

Chanel and Marilyn Monroe – the myth of ultimate femininity.

We are in April 1952, Marilyn Monroe is 26 years old and Life Magazine has her for the first time in the cover of the magazine. She is the new star in Hollywood. She just signed with the 20th Century Fox and already played in different movies. That year will be releasing 4 new movies and raised Marilyn Monroe to the rank of Super Star. In the Life Magazine interview, Marilyn declared that she wears only Chanel N.5 for sleeping. Basically it was a clever way to say she used to sleep nude. But the legend of Chanel N.5 and the ultimate femininity was founded.



2 years later, in 1953, American magazine Modern Screen had Marilyn Monroe in the cover and made a series of photos. The photo shooting was inspired by the famous sentence she said, meaning wearing nothing but Chanel N.5 to sleep. So the magazine shot Marilyn naked in bed and we could see a flacon of Chanel N.5 in all pictures just by the table bed.




In 1960, Marilyn Monroe accepts an interview for the french magazine Marie-Claire. The interview is done by Georges Belmont and the photographies are done by John Bryson during the making of the movie “Let’s make Love”. As this movie also had french actor Yves Montand, France got particularly interested for Marilyn Monroe. The interview was audio recorded and translated into text afterwards.

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After years of archive researches, in October 2012, Chanel heritage and patrimony teams got the hand on the audio recording of that interview. What they discovered was amazing. An original recording of Marilyn Monroe’s voice explaining her sentence about Chanel No. 5. Magical. This part of the interview was never published as she talked about it in a very spontaneous way.

” … they ask you questions, just an example, what do you wear in bed? You wear a pajama top or the bottom of the pajama, or a Nightgown? … So I said Chanel No. 5… because it is the truth! I don’t want to say nude you know. But it is the truth.

And from this own, Marilyn Monroe and Chanel No. 5 were bounded together in probably the most beautiful, timeless and over-feminine story! In the recording you understand how Marilyn was actually. She did not have the idea of how powerful she was thanks to her beauty and seduction. She was more a kind of “Woman-child” very spontaneous and natural. It was the eyes of men who pushed her to the rank of the ultimate Glamour icon. Marilyn is the truth and the innocence at the same time. She would probably have deserved another destiny but it contributed to her legend of timeless beauty and glamour. This sentence became the icon of beauty, femininity and glamour all over the world. It crossed time and space and today is stronger than never.

Chanel finally gave back to Marilyn what she gave to them, the truth! This recording is magical because it is true and there was no marketing, no concepts or trends to support it. It is basically just the simple truth. Chanel does not need to see beyond that because there is nothing more powerful than the truth. This is universal, easy for each women to relate to and make dream all men. This is a great timing for Chanel to come up with the Marilyn campaign. After the failure of the Brad Pitt campaign, they needed something strong for the Holiday season. Also, Dior has been stepping into Chanel’s feet as their recent campaign for their fragrance J’adore used Marilyn as many other celebrities. Check here the video:

By using Marilyn Monroe with a J’Adore Flacon in the hands, Dior probably crossed a line that did not put Chanel very confortable. What we understand from Dior is they wanted to describe this ultra-femininity represented by J’Adore. For the French couture house, J’Adore is the modern ultimate fragrance for a woman. So we can see that in the TV advertising, they took all the iconic symbols of femininity and placed them in the story. So while we see Charlize Theron running as she is late for the show, she meets Grace Kelly or Marlene Dietrich and also Marilyn Monroe. With Marilyn, they created the illusion that she was manipulating the J’Adore flacon. We must say the result is really impressive as we cannot see the difference between new images and old images. It is very well done. See here below the amazing extracts:

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As Marilyn Monroe does not have an exclusivity contract with Chanel, of course that Dior can use her image by paying the rights of it. The question is more about how marketing can create stories and how these stories can replace the real story. Dior is a very respectful house, they have amazing fragrances from Miss Dior, to Diorissimo and J’Adore is definitely the ultimate feminine fragrance of the past 10 years. And as Chanel was not at all using this amazing connection they had with the American actress, why not. We can see that Chanel stroke back with the real story in an advertising for Chanel No. 5. So this Christmas you have Marilyn Monroe twice in each advertising time on french television. I am not sure that I would have used Marilyn at the Dior’s advertising. Now, compared to the beautiful Chanel story, Marilyn looks cheap at Dior’s. Sometimes you can write history but you should never re-write it. What was done was done. Dior has such an amazing story that I would rather stick to their own DNA.

Sorry Dior, but in the Marilyn Monroe game, you lost against Chanel.



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